You may know that your skin is a reflection of your internal health but did you know that the appearance of your fingernails can also provide many important health tips? Although using nails to formulate a health diagnosis is not a popular practice in Western medicine, open minded doctors such as TVs renowned Dr. Oz are now acknowledging that examining one’s nails can provide clues to everything from the quality of one’s immune system to the state of one’s mental and physical wellbeing.
What This Could Mean for Your Immune System
Below is a list of nail issues and what they signify with regards to your health. Keep in mind that it takes approximately 6 months for your nails to grow out, so any abnormality that has begun in the past 6 months reflects a new health issue, while nail abnormalities that you have been dealing with for longer are more likely to reflect ongoing, chronic health issues.
Signs of a Nutrient Deficiency
If your nails are thin or splitting you may be deficient in any or all of the following nutrients: essential fatty acids such as omega 3’s; the microminerals manganese or copper and the minerals magnesium or zinc. If you have white spots on your nails you may be deficient in calcium or zinc and if you have pitting brown spots you may be deficient in vitamin C or folic acid. Finally, longitudinal striations (vertical indented lines) can signify digestive system damage and consequently an inability to properly absorb nutrients.
Nail Shape and Health
The shape of your nails can also provide numerous health tips. If your nails are spoon shaped you may be anemic. If they are unusually long and narrow, it could signify damage to your pituitary gland or a hormonal deficiency. If they are wide and very square, it could indicate damage to your thyroid gland or hormonal imbalances and if they are clubbed shaped it could be indicative of numerous chronic diseases including emphysema, cancer, tuberculosis, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, AIDS, cardiovascular disease and chronic cough. Nails that look scooped out (spoon shaped) with a depression that is large enough to hold a drop of water are associated with hypothyroidism, heart disease, iron deficiency anemia and a liver disorder called hemochromatoisus.
Signs of a Compromised Immune System
Nail pitting is characterized by small depressions in the nails and it is most often a sign of immune system related disorders such as psoriasis or alopecia areata. A separation of the fingernail from the nail bed or an ongoing fungal infection can also be caused by a malfunctioning immune system.
Signs that your Are Stressed out or Anxious
Ragged nails with bitten edges are an obvious sign of stress; however a less well known signifier of too much stress or anxiety is a ridge across the thumb nail. White horizontal lines, as well as brittle peeling nails, can also be caused by emotional stress.