So, we have finally moved in and unpacked, but not without casualties. My hands are nicked up and battered looking – though the silver lining is that my nails still look great. This surprises me because I used to have terrible nails which cracked and had markings on them. This doesn’t just make me happy from a vain point of view, but I also love how it displays that my internal health must be better too.
Our nails say a lot about the state of our health. Our nails, our skin, hair and tongues are excellent diagnostic tools for eastern Medicine practitioners. It is a great example of how our external reflects our internal body. This is just one of the many reasons I never polish my fingernails. And my new found nail-pride is what has prompted me to outline some of the health indications our hands can demonstrate. So, read the following to learn what Ayurveda says the look of our nails reveal.
Lines on our nails: Lines on our nails generally indicate a lack of nutrients. While vertical lines on the nail display malabsorption, horizontal lines demonstrate malnutrition. Malabsorption is said to be from excess Vata, and to me this says that the colon, which is governed by this air energy, is not absorbing properly. Malnutrition is said to be more of an “agni” issue. Agni in Ayurveda represents fire, and it is most notably known for its role as digestive fire. So, when we see lines on our nails, it is important to assess whether we are having problems digesting our food or if w are having issues with our bowel elimination which affects our absorption. Either way, I would think a cleanse would be in order to both rest the digestive system and help it restore while also purging it of wastes and buildup.
Weak, brittle nails: When our nails are easily broken or cracked, this is a reflection of our own immunity. Weak, brittle nails are a Vata trait (again, the air element within us). When we bite our nails, it is a nervous habit which is also indicative of excess Vata. Remember, Vata embodies air, and this thin, ethereal energy within us is responsible for our nervous system. This means that worry, anxiety and insecurity are characteristics of having too much of this dosha. This can also lead to nervous disorders such as insomnia. One way to address this is to ground and relax. Meditation and Hatha Yoga are excellent Vata-pacifying practices, but so are more luxurious indulgences such as receiving a massage performed with rich sesame oil. Sesame oil is incredibly Vata-reducing and also is excellent when applied right to weak nails.
White marks/ Indentations: As a child I always had pitted marks and small indents on my nail bed. This, according to Ayurveda is due to a deficiency of zinc and calcium. Makes sense as I have always been a lactose intolerant – but now that I am grown, and my body balanced, these are no more! Where the white marks occur is also important. The ring finger is related specifically to the kidneys and this is said to mean there are calcium deposits in the kidneys. The middle finger governs the small intestine while the pointer finger is linked to the lungs – again, white marks/ indentations in there fingers are said to mean the same things in these body areas.
Our nails can also help us diagnose what our dominant doshas are. Vata nails are thin, easy broken and dry, Pitta nails are pink, soft and tender, and Kapha nails are hard, strong and oily. Nail fungus is a sign of Kapha excess. Because Kapha is earth and water energy, this means there is too much dampness and yeast within the constitution. And while it is being displayed on the nails specifically, that this mold problem is probably an issue throughout the body. It is very important we use anti-fungal oils and extracts on the affected area (such as garlic extract and oregano oil), but even more imperative we should start a candida diet (no yeast, sugar, wheat or fermented foods) to help mitigate the overall imbalance.
Caring for our nails may seem like a vain thing to do, but if we pay attention to them with our health in mind, they can be an excellent tool to help us understand what is happening internally.