What your nails can tell you.
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I am always saying to my clients that if they stop and listen to their body, it will tell them what it likes and wants. I try to do this myself a lot too, but sometimes life gets so noisy that its hard you know. But recently I saw a white patch under the nail on my index finger and thought “oh I should do something teaching about “what our nails can tell us”… So here we are.
When we pay attention to all this little signals and signs our body gives us, they can direct us towards nutritional deficiencies, underlying health issues and things like that. This is especially important in our current time/environment, where many of us are learning to be our own doctor and are taking more responsibility for our own health.
So today I wanted to give you an over view about nail signs and what they can be telling you about your body, and what may be going on. It’s really very interesting the way the body wants to tell us what’s going on through signs on our nails, tongue, hair, skin and even through our eyes (which is one of the reasons I got certified as an Iridologist or as someone who studies the Iris). Our body wants to survive – it wants to be strong and healthy, that’s why we continually build new cells and get rid of old damaged ones. And as always I am here to show you, and teach you, and encourage you on how to listen and support your amazing body. Don’t give up, don’t lose hope – there is always a way and your body is stronger than you think.
So there are many different natural practices you can us to support you on your healing journey. For some people one works better than another, and that’s ok because we are so bio-individual that its natural to take time, do some trial and error, and see what works for your body. So that all can take some time, but if we actually listen and pay attention to our body, we can move things on a bit faster and narrow things down a lot better.
One of the ways we can do this is by paying attention to our nails. Every chipped, brittle, indented and blackened nail has something to tell us. So healthy nails grow on average of 1 mm per week. This can be useful for seeing where a sign is on our nail and determining how long ago our body was having the issue that caused it. So if we were to calculate how many millimetres say a white spot is from the base of our nail, it will give us an idea of how many weeks ago that spot was relevant or when the issue started.
For the general population, nail health is most often an indicator of poor nutritional intake or poor digestion. Most nail issues usually don’t indicate a serious underlying illness. So lets look at some of those signs or symptoms that we can see in our nails.
The most common I think, and what spurred this conversation is the white spot or white patch we can see on our nails. These usually indicate a zinc deficiency or calcium excess, or you could have hurt your finger. So zinc is a very solid or defined white spot, you can also see a scattering of spots or several spots that relate back to zinc. And then if its more of a vague shape or blotch of a spot, we generally see that’s connected to calcium. If its a calcium excess or you hurt your finger, you will see the white spot grow out with your nail. Whereas, a zinc spot can appear and disappear. Mine was calcium excess for anyone who’s curious.
Now if we see the white spot was say 3 mm away from the base we can think back a see – well 3 weeks ago social isolation and home schooling started so my nutrition was terrible, and mostly just sugar and void of real nutrition. Then we can correlate and connect the dots. You can see how this can be helpful.
Next would be furrowing, ridges or groves in the nail that run horizontally. These lines are also know as “Beaus line” and can be just a natural occurrence with age, but in rare instances can signify something serious, so if you are concerned, be sure to speak to your doctor. So these ridges indicate where the nail stopped growing due to something that has stressed the nail out. This could be illness, major stress (physical or emotional), a big lifestyle change or a big immune hit. Something like this that has thrown the body through a loop and stopped the nail from growing. Again you can do the calculations and figure out a time frame where your body was under this stress and what happened.
Next is also quiet common and that is brittle nails. This we can connect back to digestion and also the thyroid…a sluggish thyroid can contribute to brittle weak nails due to poor circulation and the inability to utilize nutrients properly. So what’s happening in your digestion that’s causing your body to not get enough nutrients and minerals to make strong healthy nails. So this might be an issue with low stomach acid, poor digestive enzymes, poor vagal nerve activity, gallbladder issues, IBD (irritable bowel disease) or some sort of other gut issue. All of these will impact the break down and absorption of nutrients. Two nutrients that can be helpful here are calcium and silica. So some examples for calcium, we are looking at almonds, sesame seeds, bone broth, buckwheat and green veg. And for silica we look to oats, melons, cucumbers, artichokes, asparagus, dandelion, and again our green veg. But also constantly wetting and drying your nails/hands can attribute to brittle nails too. Something to be aware of. 🙂
Now when we see ridges that run from the base (where the nail comes out under the skin or cuticle) to the top, so vertical ridges…we are looking at low digestive enzymes. So again something that’s stopping the nail from getting nutrients properly from the gut. Vertical ridges generally appear later in life and as long as they aren’t accompanied by other symptoms such as changes in color, they are usually nothing to be concerned about. We would just go back and look at the gut and nutrition again. These can also be connected to poor circulation and oxygenation into the nail bed – so anemia here and carpel tunnel could be present.
If your nail ‘spoons’ or becomes concave, we can usually connect this to an iron deficiency. You can also compare this to your energy levels, how well wound heel and also your menstruation. Looking to food first to address the issue before supplements is wise, and then remember that iron is best absorbed in the presence of vitamin C.
Then the clubbing or the raised nail, something that looks like a Geckos foot. Where the nail is elevated, round and popping out, this can again show us poor circulation and oxygen to the nail cells. So this could be respiratory conditions, how well oxygen is being carried in the blood and being used in the cells. Here we can use magnesium to support cellular health, mineral water is great and also make sure we are moving a lot daily, especially outdoors and in the sunshine.
And other sign will be beaking or curving of the nail. This is where the fingernail curls over the top like a birds beak. This can show us a potassium deficiency. Also Hyperparathyroidism, Renal failure, Psoriasis and Systemic sclerosis should be considered.
Next when we look at the color of the nail… A yellow nail may tell us that there is an infection present, or reaction to a product you are using on the hands and nails, or also that the nail has received some sort of trauma. This can go for blacked nails or black spots or ‘splinters’ under the nail too. If you have ever caught your finger in a door and got a blacked or bruised nail, then you know what I am talking about. This black appearance is a result of blood vessel inflammation under your nail and will disappear as the nail and finger heals. The splinter appearance can signify poor circulation and weaker blood vessels or blood vessel damage.
If we see opaque or frosted or ‘pale’ yellow color nails, we may see liver dysfunction or the liver is having issues. Here we would bring in liver support like dandelion, milk thistle and even burdock root. For the kidneys we might see a red tip at the cuticle. This is where the capillaries in the body might be struggling, and you might see a pale ring under the nail/on the skin at the top of the nail.
Lots of pinholes or small indentations in the nail can be connected back to psoriasis and inflammation. Again we look back to the gut first here and of course if you have skin issues you will see an improvement in the nails if you take care of said skin issues. Ridges and lines can also be connected to psoriasis too.
When we look for those half moons or crescents by the cuticle of the nail and there is none visible, this is generally connected to B12 deficiency. This can also be connected to poor circulation and blood flow. We can also check capillary return by pushing down on the nail. The nail bed should be nice and pink and then when you push down on the nail you push the blood away, this makes the nail bed go white and when you take your finger away the nail bed should instantly return pink. If it takes a while to come back, you will have poor capillary return, which means you may have low blood volume, poor circulation and poor blood flow out to the appendages.
If we see regular infections around the nail, like fungal infections, we look towards the gut and the immune system. In this case where there are reoccurring infections… as we look at the gut and immune system, we can also use some topical applications like colloidal silver, coconut oil, essential oils and where the issue is severe, you can use a topical anti fungal or antibiotic.
You can see a lot of these nail signs can be intertwined and be a symbol of many of the same issues or underlying concerns, but this just further reinforces the fact that the body is one system and should be treated and cared for as a ‘whole’.
As always, I hope you found this information helpful and please share with anyone you feel may benefit. Sharing is caring but it also helps this information reach the masses and empower people to be responsible for their own health.
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