There is a long history in seeing connections between seemingly disconnected parts of the body such as there is a connection seen between the nails and the internal organs. If your nails aren’t doing too well, there’s a solid chance something’s not going quite right somewhere else in your body.
TICM stated that the Liver controls the sinews and its flourishing condition manifests on the nails. Therefore if the Liver Blood is abundant, the nails will be moist and healthy. If Liver-Blood is deficient, the nails will lack nourishment and become rigid, dry, brittle and crack. If there is a stagnation of Liver Blood, the nails will be dark or purple.
So what should your nails look like?
Colour of the nails should be pink or red without any white, black, or brown spots.
Shape should be naturally rounded covering the fingertip and there should not be a gap between the nail and the skin. The surface should be smooth without irregular patterns.
Hardness: The nails should look firm, not too thin, not too thick, and not too weak.
Length and growth: Nails should grow gradually and evenly. Generally, we should cut them once a week and allow them to re-grow regularly. I advise people to cut Thursday just before Magrib or Friday morning in preparation for Jummah.
So what do unhealthy nails look like?
Absence of moons: Poor circulation, cold invading the body as lack of heat and vigour and weak digestive system as Stomach is cold. A great way to build your Stomach energy and defenses back up would be drinking hot ginger tea every morning and all throughout the day if possible.
White spots: White spots on the nails are very common, mainly due to the fact that more and more people are becoming deficient in minerals such as magnesium and zinc. This may be due to a poor diet, stress, which depletes both zinc and magnesium, or could also be the result of the body not being able to absorb the zinc you’re already eating. This is often because of poor digestion, low stomach acid, inflammation in the GI tract, excessive toxins in the colon, intake of allergenic foods, chronic loose stools or parasitic infection.
Vertical lines and ridges: These lines are all too common for many individuals and typically indicate malabsorption of nutrients in the body. This means nails get less and less nutrition and may become pale and ridged. Young or old, you want your circulation to be strong so that your blood can bring nutrients to every nook and cranny of your body. These lines indicate that something is preventing these vitamins from reaching your nails.
Horizontal lines and grooves: A deep line that runs horizontal to the nail is an indication of a strong illness, infection or depletion that occurred during the time that specific part of the nail was growing. It’s common for this line to occur after a viral infection, heart attack, severe fever and so on. It also can mean an issue of the metabolism, showing vitiated digestion at the time of growth.
Pale nails typically show anaemia, low red blood cells/iron deficiency in the system. This can be due to excessive blood loss (heavy menstruation or injury); an iron, folate or B12 deficiency; an ulcer, a parasitic/viral infection, certain medications including NSAIDS, malabsorption, or chronic diseases such cancer or autoimmune conditions. In TCM, pale nails are said to be caused by “blood deficiency,” which isn’t always identical to anaemia but certainly can be.
Inflammation or red nail beds: If you notice a red, puffy border along the nail fold, this is typically a sign of parasites and/or viral infection in the system. Parasites are prevalent in many individuals and have multiple causes. A few common causes are traveling, low stomach acid, uncooked meats, contact with hospitals and children's’ centres, not washing hands properly after elimination, unwashed raw food, or through a transfer from our furry little friends.