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Fingernails are more than just jewels or tools. They are indicators of physical well-being.
Tradition has it that in ancient Egypt it was illegal for a man to see a woman who was a member of another man's harem. When a harem member fell ill the physician was sent for. His assessment of the woman's problems had to be done based on what he could learn from her hand as she revealed it between the breaks in the curtains.
While fingernails may not provide the complete and thorough diagnostic base of more modern, scientific and holistic methods, they can certainly point us in the right direction. Medical doctors even learn a few select fingernail symptoms in medical school (as outlined in Bates Guide to Physical Examination and History Taking),as people who have a holistic bend, certainly can't be accused of being unscientific!
Nails are simply a specialized extension of skin. They are dead keratinaceous/epithelial material that is firmly attached to richly vascular nail beds. Because they grow rapidly in healthy people fingernails up to .1 mm daily, toenails less quickly. They can provide a fairly good recent history of physiological imbalances throughout the body. Changes in the vascularity of the nail bed will change the color of the nails and indicate other clinical problems in various areas of the body.
Fingernails that grow slowly and/or have deformities indicate potential problems.
The white half-moon that should appear at the base of each fingernail is called either a moon or a lunula.
Let's look at fingernail symptoms in categories of color change, texture change and combination changes. When an organ system or specific disease process is listed below, the way to correct the accompanying fingernail problems is to address the organ system or disease process directly. Where there are less obvious remedies they are included.
Color changes can be the result of changes in blood supply to the nail bed, changes in organ chemistry or toxic infiltration from the surface of the nail. Color changes may be in the nail bed (behind the nail) or in the nail tissue itself.
Yellow: Swelling in the hands (Potassium Comb), respiratory conditions such as chronic bronchitis (ALJ), lymphatic problems (Lymphomax), diabetes (Sugar Reg) and liver disorders (Milk Thistle Comb) can all cause nails to appear yellow, especially at the nail bed. If the white tips of nails appear yellow it can be tinting from using nail polish frequently. Massaging the fingernails with Lemon essential oil will help to prevent polish induced yellow tinting.
Pink and white: When nails appear part pink, part white suspect kidney problems (Kidney Activator).
Red skin a base of nail: This is not really a fingernail symptom, red skin around the base of a nail can indicate connective tissue disorders (Collatrim, Colostrum) or poor essential fatty acid metabolism (Gallbladder Formula) or nervousness (Nutri Calm).
Pale nail bed: Pale anything almost always means poor blood supply or poor oxygenation of the blood. Anemia is often the cause of a pale nail bed (Chlorophyll and Gingko T/R).
Yellow nails or elevation of ends of nails with slight blush at the base: - lymphatic (Lymphomax), respiratory (bronchial/lung) (Lung Support), diabetes (Pro Pancreas), liver (Liver Cleanse). Continual nail polish wear or nicotine staining.
Yellow toenails: may mean Candida (Silver gel, Tea Tree Oil, Yeast/Fungal Detox, Bifidophilus Flora Force).
White: White nails can indicate liver problems (Milk Thistle Combination), kidney problems (Kidney Activator) and/or anemia (I-X). Anemia can be caused by iron deficiency in the diet, inadequate digestion of iron containing foods or poor absorption of iron in the gastrointestinal tract (Food Enzymes).
White with pink near tips: This color combination can indicate cirrhosis (Milk Thistle Combination).
White lines: White lines that don’t necessarily follow the shape of the lunula can indicate heart problems (Cardio Assurance), liver problems (Milk Thistle Comb) or history of a recent high fever (IF-C). These look like the traditional white spots that run together across the nail.
White spots: Traditionally, holistic practitioners have recognized white spots on fingernails as being an indication of low Zinc. White spots can indicate low Calcium or injuries to the fingernail.
White, square nails: When the nails are very white and square look towards hormonal disorders as the cause. (X-Action, Pro-G-Yam Cream)
White bands: - protein deficiency (Smart Meals).
Slate blue lunula: This indicates potential lung problems or over exposure to heavy metals. (Lung Support, Heavy Metal Detox).
Deep blue nail beds: Pulmonary obstruction, asthma and emphysema, all conditions that reduce oxygenation of the blood, can create deep blue nail beds (Lung Support, CoQ-10 and ALJ) or heavy metal poisoning (Heavy Metal Detox).
Black, splinter-like marks under the nail bed: may come from bleeding disorders (Capsicum) or heart problems (Cardio Assurance).
Nails pitted with red-brown spots, splitting at tips: This complex set of symptoms can indicate a broad range of potential conditions. Consider psoriasis, nail injuries, dish soap, Vitamin C deficiency, Folic acid deficiency and protein deficiency.
White lines across the nail: These white lines run across the nail following the shape of the lunula. These do not resemble white spots. The nail bed appears white and opaque in a band or stripe across the nail. They are a strong indication of arsenic poisoning or acute or serious illness. They will generally grow out when the problem is corrected. (Heavy Metal Detox).
Terrys nails: are opaque white nails with a dark band at the end of the finger. This is a somewhat more ominous sign. It often indicates a serious illness is in progress. Possibilities include cancer, cirrhosis, congestive heart failure and diabetes. Aging can be the cause of this. (Una de Gato, E-Tea, Pau d'Arco, Milk Thistle Combination, CoQ-10 and/or Cardio Assurance, SugarReg).
Texture and general characteristics
Onycholysis: When the nails separate painlessly from the bed it is called onycholysis. This, again, is a broad symptom that can be indicative of any one or more of several potential problems. Injury, psoriasis, drug reactions, fungal infections Yeast/Fungal Detox, reactions to nail hardeners or acrylic nails, and thyroid disorders are on the list. Fungal infections in the nails respond well to topical applications of Tea Tree oil. If this is not strong enough, one can add tee tree oil orally one drop to a glass of water, taken two times per day and add Olive leaf extract and/or Silver Shield.
Thick nails: may indicate that the vascular system is weakening and the blood is not circulating properly, (onychogryposis - thickened and curved nails) most often affects the big toe and may signify poor circulation or a vascular system (CoQ-10 and Cardio Assurance) that is beginning to degenerate, or thyroid disease (Thyroid Support).
Clubbing: When nail beds bulge and the nails curve down around the fingertips this is a potential indication of oxygen deprivation, lung disease (including lung cancer), heart disease and liver disease. (CoQ-10, Cardio Assurance, Lung Support, Una de Gato, E-Tea, Pau d'Arco).
Beaus lines: Nail growth is susceptible to stress. When a body under goes severe illness or trauma, including major surgery, general anesthetic, even a serious flu, the nails may stop growing. The result is a crosswise indentation in the nails. This generally will grow out with time. (Nutri Calm, Stress-J, SUMA)
Spoon nails: When nails create upward spoons as they grow out an iron deficiency B-12 Complete, Green Zone and I-X are some excellent herbal sources of iron. In the event the problem is assimilation of iron, look to Food Enzymes, Intestinal Soothe & Build or Slippery elm and CLT-X to enhance absorption.
Flat nails: Raynauds disease can cause flat nails. Raynauds can be controlled/corrected with strong adrenal gland support. Mood Elevator, Stress-J, Pantothenic acid and Hawthorn are all excellent adrenal support choices.
Dark, thin, flat, or spoon-shaped: These symptoms can indicate a B-12 deficiency. Hawthorn Berries and Spirulina are great sources of B-12.
Thick, discoloring nails: This is often an indication of psoriasis. Doing cleanses, alternating with building programs, and focusing on reducing the acid levels of the blood and body through diet are usually very helpful in correcting psoriasis. (Super Omega-3 EPA, Flax Seed Oil, Super GLA)
Thick nails: This is a cardiovascular indicator. It indicates a weakening of the vascular system and poor circulation. Using Mega Chel, HS II, CoQ-10 and other cardiovascular supporting supplements would be wise.
Lengthwise grooves: Kidney disorders (Kidney Activator), aging (Colostrum) and iron (Chlorophyll, I-X) deficiency or decreased general health or poor protein metabolism. Need PDA or Food Enzymes.
Lengthwise ridges: This is a strong indication of arthritis. Beside simply lowering the acid levels in the diet and supporting the kidneys and adrenals, using blood type diets is very helpful in controlling arthritic symptoms (Joint Health or Joint Support).
Fragile with horizontal and vertical ridges: Vitamin B deficiency (Vitamin B-Complex).
Beading: This is a strong indication of rheumatoid arthritis. Use blood type diets to control this.
Pitted and dented: Nails that resemble hammered brass portend of total or partial hair loss. Chipping, cracking, peeling, breaking easily. Nails that are this fragile indicate general nutritional deficiency, insufficient hydrochloric acid in the stomach and deficient minerals and protein in the diet. Some of the best remedies for these problems include GreenZone, Collatrim and Colostrum. Massaging Lemon essential oil into nails can help to strengthen nails and correct these symptoms.
Pitting: may signify alopecia areata (hair loss or tendency toward hair loss during stress - Nutri Calm) or anemia (I-X) or parasites (Para Cleanse).
Pitted with onycholysis (separation of the nail from its bed) or red-brown spots: - frayed split ends indicate Psoriasis; use Citrus Bioflavonoids w/C, Folic Acid, Protein, HSN-W).
Brittle, soft, shiny, no moons: These symptoms point to an overactive thyroid. Since the thyroid is controlled by the pituitary, working with the pituitary is often helpful. Parsley and Alfalfa are good choices.
Brittle, ridged, and curved nails: may be seen in anemia secondary to iron deficiency (Chlorophyll or I-X).
Dry, brittle: lack of Vitamin A and Calcium; iron deficiency (I-X), thyroid (Thyroid Activator), kidney (Kidney Activator), circulation (Capsicum/Garlic & Parsley), kidney disorders and/or poor circulation; or a need for Super Omega 3-EPA fatty acid.
Thinning nails accompanied by itching skin: These are symptoms of lichen planus. This is a skin condition with itchy, purple, angular bumps. Medical science reports that causes can include drug reactions, color film developers, polymyositis, malabsorption syndromes and lymphoma. Cleansing and general nutrition support (Enviro Detox, Tiao He Cleanse and/or HSN-W, are helpful. Liver support is important.
Raised at base with small white tip: This can simply be hereditary or it can be an indication of respiratory disorders (Lung Support).
Brittle, soft, shiny nails without a moon: may indicate overactive thyroid (Target TS II).
Excessive dryness, very rounded and curved nail ends, and darkened nails: B-12 deficiency.
Chipped, peeling, cracked, breaking or splitting nails: lack of hydrochloric acid (PDA); detergents, chemicals. Need protein and minerals. Poor mineral levels often secondary to low digestion (Food Enzymes) or food allergies.
Hangnails: lack of Protein, Folic Acid and Vitamin A & D. Golden Salve is good on cuticles.
Nails separated from nail bed: may signify a thyroid disorder (Thyroid Activator).
Loose, brittle: too much soap and water. Use all natural soap (Sunshine Concentrate).
Raised nails at the base with small white ends: show a respiratory disorder such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis (Lung Support and ALJ ). May be hereditary.
Discolored nails: prolonged illness, stress, nicotine, allergies or diabetes (CleanStart, ALJ, Pro Pancreas).
Half-white nail with dark spots on tip points out: possible kidney problems (Magnesium Complex, B-6, Kidney Activator).
Fungus under and around nails: insufficient lactobacillus present in body; Candida; Tea Tree oil, Yeast/Fungal Detox and Bifidophilus Flora Force.
Nails don't grow: need Calcium Plus D, Black Current Oil, sulphur (MSM).
Inflammation around nail: Golden Salve and Silver Shield Gel.
Downward curved nails: may mean heart problems (HS II), liver (LIV-J) or respiratory problems (Lung Support).
Unusually wide, square nails: can suggest a tendency toward hormonal disorders (Pro-G-Yam, Female Comfort, Men's Formula)
gentle but courageous nature.
Long and narrow nails: a quarrelsome nature but scientific (Liver Balance and Stress-J).
Flat nails: can be poor circulation from Raynaud's disease (Magnesium Complex, CoQ-10, Vitamin E w/Selenium, Colostrum).
Nails that are thin and brassy, often ridged: that resemble hammered brass indicate a tendency toward partial or total hair loss (MSM and/or HSN-W).
Nail heading (bumps): is a sign off rheumatoid arthritis (EverFlex and/or Joint Health).
No moons on fingernail: means no circulation to that part of the body that finger represents (Butchers Broom or CoQ-10 or HS II).
Pink moons: usually indicate Candida or parasites in bowel (Caprylic Acid or Para Cleanse).
Red moon: heart problems (Cardio Assurance).
Slate Blue moon: indicates overexposure to metals or lung trouble (ALJ and/or Mullen).
Fingers and relationship to body
Thumb - brain
Index finger – metal, large intestines, lungs
Middle finger – earth, stomach, spleen, digestion
Ring finger – water, kidneys
Little finger - fire heart, thyroid (called second heart because it controls rhythm of heart)
One should never wear rings on all fingers. Wear no rings on ring finger if kidney problems.