Is beer a good enough reason to plan your travel around it this summer? We don’t know about that, but there are some enticing opportunities for self-professed craft beer aficionados. For instance, New Belgium Brewery is running a “Tour de Fat: Beer, Bikes & Bemusement” festival in cities like Atlanta, Denver, San Diego and Minneapolis. Brooklyn Brewery from New York and Deschutes from Oregon are also making the rounds with traveling beer events.
Yet, what really caught our eye was The Spa at Four Seasons in Vail, Colorado — which is offering a new “Amber Ale Foot Soak” on their spa menu. Is this supposed to be a treatment for foot fungus?
Beer Foot Bath: A Cure For Foot Fungus?
For this treatment, you relax with a crushed barley and malt foot scrub, finished off with a light foot rub, using hop oil.
“What could that possibly we do?” we wondered.
According to the description, “The yeast from the beer bath promotes a purifying and cleansing effect on the feet. Extremely beneficial for any mild fungal issues, the scrub benefits circulation and removes excess skin buildup making the feet smooth and fresh.”
We’ve seen similar claims on the internet. A Yahoo! network contributor claimed that: “Beer contains yeast and that’s the one thing the fungus can’t tolerate. You’ll be rid of the discoloration in no time when you begin a regimen where you do a beer foot soak, every night, until the fungus is gone.”
NailFungus.org makes this statement in support of foot beer baths to kill toenail fungus: “By combining the vinegar and acidophilus, you are creating a negative climate for the nail fungus. High acidity environments kill off unproductive bacteria like fungus, while still allowing productive bacteria, like acidophilus to thrive and encourage their pro-biotic tendencies to help fight off infection. The alcohol in the beer works to soften the tissue around the nail as well as the nail itself, thus allowing the acidic environment to permeate (enter) the nail in order to do its job.”
They say this treatment takes about a month to twelve weeks to show results. We suspect the fungus may be gone by the time the whole nail grows out –regardless of the beer bath. This does occasionally happen, but is not typical.
Antifungal Properties of Beer
A study by scientists at Sapporo Medical University in Japan found that humulone, a chemical compound in hops, can guard against a virus that causes severe forms of bronchitis and pneumonia in children. It also guards against inflammation, researchers said. As for brewer’s yeast, supplements have been used to treat everything from diarrhea and the common cold to boils and type 2 diabetes. However, Web MD reports that “more evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of brewer’s yeast for these uses.”
Unfortunately, the scientific research backing claims of brewer’s yeast ability to fight fungus is very limited — not to mention, flawed by design. “Determining the effectiveness of brewer’s yeast… is hampered by the fact that many studies use combinations of differing bacterial and yeast strains,” according to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “This makes it difficult to know whether only one or all of the components are needed for a beneficial effect.”
It is also important to note that the science focuses on yeast’s effects inside the body, rather than applied topically on the skin. We were unable to dig up any evidence suggesting that the body is able to “assimilate” antifungal agents through a beer soak and fight foot fungus that way.
The Bottom Line On Foot Fungus:
As far as our team of medical consultants tell us, foot fungus doesn’t usually disappear on its own. One of the more effective treatments — oral pills — isn’t even able to kill off the persistent foot fungus all of the time. Some people need to undergo expensive laser treatments, sanitize their shoes daily, and keep their feet covered to prevent a recurrence. Research shows that our propensity to contract foot fungus may have something to do with genetics, so some people may require more aggressive treatment and vigilance than others. We’re all about affordable methods for toenail fungus treatment, but it’s a shame to see so many “cures” touted, without giving people raw data that makes sense. A beer foot soak may sound nice, but it’s not going to “cure” anything.