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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

What Your Fingernails Can Reveal About Your Health

Fingernails - Diagnostic Tool

What Your Fingernails Can Reveal About Your Health


In Traditional Chinese medicine, examination of parts of the body, such as the tongue or fingernails, can provide valuable information about the health status of the whole individual. According to a venerated Chinese medical text, "If something happens in the interior of the body, it must be reflected in the exterior of the body."

The Fingernail Picture of Health. Colors, shapes, configurations and distortions in the general shapes of the fingernails can indicate a great deal about an individual's health - provided you know how to read the signs, according to traditional Chinese Medicine.

While fingernail analysis is a complex and richly detailed diagnostic art, taking into account shape, size, color, appearance, and strength, practitioners Zong Xiao-fan and Gary Liscum, authors of Chinese Medical Palmistry (Blue Poppy Press, 1995) offer the following self-help guidelines.

White Fingernails: When the fingernail appears pale, white, and without luster, this can indicate anernia, or what acupuncturists call "blood vacuity." This denotes a lack of vitality and life force in the blood associated with specific organs, and sometimes literally a shortage of blood.

White, waxy fingernails can also indicate ulcerative bleeding or the presence of hookworm or other parasitic infestation, which produces a chronic loss of blood. Tiny white speckles appearing under the fingernails suggest a possible deficiency of calcium or zinc, the-activity of internal parasites, chronic constipation, or a state of fatigue. A single horizontal white line crossing the nail is typically associated with lead or arsenic poisoning.

Abnormal Nail Arc Shadows: The little white crescent at the base of each fingernail is known as a nail-arc shadow or "health circle." In a healthy person, each fingernail has a well-proportioned arc; arcs indicate not only one's general physical condition but the state of the cardiovascular function.

If the arcs are unusually large or asymmetrical, this may indicate high blood pressure; if one or more arcs are missing (out of the ten fingernails), this may suggest an imbalance in the nervous system or anemia. The arcs may become obscured and hard to see following a stroke, but they may also become small or obscured if there is gastrointestinal disease or ulcer, asthma, acute pneumonia, or gout.

Fingernails With Grooves: Grooves or dips that cross the nail horizontally indicate a recent health problem or emotional or nutritional disturbance. The presence of more than one recessed groove can point to parasites in the intestines and/or a chronic weakness in intestinal function.

If there is a groove on the index finger, this often highlights a tendency to develop skin disease. A groove on the ring finger is associated with eye problems, bronchitis, or respiratory disease; on the middle finger, with a loss of muscular strength; on the little finger, with problems in the throat, nerves, or gallbladder. A groove on the thumb points to a low level of basic life force.

Distortions In Fingernail Shape: When the fingernail appears to lie level across the skin without a curve, "1ike a flat sheet sticking to the fingertip," state Zong and Liscum, this usually connotes a low disease resistance and a state of physical weakness, especially after frequent illnesses.

A fingernail with a thin weak middle section and creases running lengthwise along the nail body can indicate a parasitic infestation, a calcium deficiency, or anemia. A short, square shape to the nail often reflects a person who is impatient and potentially subject to heart disease; this, is especially so if the health circles are small or missing on the same fingernail.

Specific Health Problem Indications: A tendency to develop high blood pressure (and/or its actual presence) is indicated when the left index fingernail is light red, dumbbell shaped, and has a vertical mark in its center. A crescent shape in the lower-right comer of the left ring fingernail often points to uterine fibroids; a light red or purplish red, oval, crescent, or strip-shaped fingernail is an accompanying indicator.

Problems with the prostate (such as chronic prostatitis, or enlargement) are connoted by a dumbbell shape in the central portion of the left ring fingernail; the nail may also be light red or purplish red in color. Diabetes may be present if there is a round dot on the left middle fingernail and the fingernail is white.
Source: Alternative Medicine, Issue 26. -Mariann Cade
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This is what we learned about fingernail markings in the "Nutrition" class at CNHP school:

(On the thumbnail, 25% of the nail bed should be covered by a moon. This means that your calcium intake is good. (The moons should decrease in size a little on the next 3 fingers. (If no moons appear, or you only have small moons, your parathyroid glands are not sending the calcium to where it needs to go in the body. (A red haze over the moons indicate circulatory weakness. (The pinky finger should have no moon. If it does, check the heart.

(Vertical ridges indicate digestion weakness. (Horizontal ridges indicate stress. (White dots or lines indicate zinc deficiency. (Vertical black lines at the top of the thumbnail indicate heavy metal toxicity. (Peeling top layers of the nail indicate liver weakness. (Really thick nails indicate yeast.

(If you put your hand flat on the table, spread the fingers out, and nails turn white, that would indicate anemia. (All these markings can appear on toenails as well as fingernails.) -Carol Matz
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Nails as Diagnostic Tool

(Editors Note: The source of this information is unknown and information herein is unsubstanciated per Randi Scott)
Reading your Nails
Nail changes may signify a number of disorders elsewhere in the body. These changes may indicate illness even before the rest of the body does. Seek medical attention if any of the following symptoms are suspected.)

--Thick nails may indicate that the vascular system is weakening and the blood is not circulating properly. (Editors Note: It can also indicate Candida)
--Lengthwise grooves or ridges may indicate a kidney disorder and is associated with aging. An iron deficiency may also cause ridges.
--If the white moon area of the nail turns red, it may indicate heart problems; if it turns slate blue, then it indicates over exposure to silver or lung trouble.
--Brittle nails signify possible iron deficiency and thyroid problems, impaired kidney function, and circulation problems.
--Flat nails can denote Raynaud¹s disease.
--Yellow nails can indicate internal disorders long before other symptoms appear. Some of these are problems with the lymphatic system, respiratory disorders, diabetes, and liver disorders.
--White nails indicate possible liver or kidney disorder/or anemia.
--Dark nails and/or thin, flat, spoon shaped nails are a sign of vitamin B12 deficiency or anemia.
--Deep blue nail beds show pulmonary obstruction such as asthma or emphysema.
--Nail beading is a sign of rheumatoid arthritis.
--Yellow nails can indicate internal disorder before other symptoms appear. Some of these are problems with the lymphatic system, respiratory disorders, diabetes, and liver disorders.
--White nails indicate possible liver or kidney disorders, soft, shiny nails without a moon may indicate an overactive thyroid.
--White lines across the nail may indicate a liver disease.
--Thinning nails may signal an itchy skin disease (lichen planus).
--Nails separated from the nail bed may signify a thyroid disorder.
--A half white nail with dark spots on the tip points out a possible kidney disease.
--Raised nails at the base with small white ends show a respiratory disorder such as emphysema or chronic bronchitis. This nail condition may also be hereditary.
--Red skin at the bottom of the nail may indicate a connective tissue disorder.
--Ridges can signify a possible infection such as the flu.
--Downward curved nail ends may denote heart, liver, or respiratory problems.
--White lines show possible heart disease, high fever, or arsenic poisoning.
--Ridges running up and down the nails indicate a tendency to develop arthritis.
--Nails that resemble hammered brass indicate a tendency toward partial or total hair loss.
--Unusually wide, square nails can suggest a hormonal problems and frayed and split ends indicate psoriasis; vitamin C, folic acid, and protein are needed.
--Nails that chip, peel, crack, or break easily show a nutritional deficiency and insufficient hydrochloric acid and protein. Minerals are also needed.
--White nails with pink near the tips are a sign of cirrhosis. -Randi A. Scott, RNC
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Finger (and toe) Nails
General Weakness / Splitting
Nutritional deficiencies from poor digestion of proteins and/or minerals may produce general weakness of nails. A lack of stomach acid can produce both of these deficiencies. Note that antacids (also see below) directly interfere with absorption of mineral nutrients.

Vegetarians who eat inadequate amounts of protein may experience general weakness of nails.

Brittle Nails / Easy Tearing
A deficiency of calcium may contribute to brittle nails.
A deficiency of essential fatty acids may contribute to brittle nails.
A deficiency of iron may contribute to brittle nails with a tendency to tear crosswise.
A deficiency of zinc may contribute to brittle nails.
Supplemental vitamin A is recommended.

Vitamin A Caution: Women who may become pregnant should not use more than 10,000 IU/day to avoid the potential for birth defects. Long-term use of doses greater than 50,000 IU/day may become toxic for adults and should be used only with the supervision of a health professional. Consider substituting beta-carotene for long-term use.

An excess of selenium may contribute to brittle and thickened nails.

Herbs which are high in the mineral silica are often helpful in strengthening hair and nails. Silica is found in the highest concentrations in the plants that grow tall and straight with the ability to bend in the wind without breaking.

Oat straw
Nature's Sunshine HSN-W is a high-silica hair, skin and nails formula.

Pink Half Moons
Treat bowel for Candida infection. See Candidiasis.

Fungal Infections in Nails
Treat with anti-fungal chemicals including aromatic oils, especially Tea Tree Oil. continue applications several times a day for longer than it takes the old infection to grow out. Treat bowel for Candida infection. See Candidiasis.

Lengthwise (Vertical) Ridges
A deficiency of calcium may contribute to lengthwise ridges.
A deficiency of stomach acid may contribute to ridges. Stomach acid is required for absorption of nutrients, especially minerals such as calcium.
Reduced liver function may contribute to lengthwise ridges. See Liver Support Supplements.
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Fingernails Curve Up
I work with a lady whose fingernails turn completely up. She would be very interested in something that would help her nails be more normal. She said they have always been that way. -Barbara Sikes
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Fingernails curving up is called Koilonychia or "spooning." Spooning can be an indication of anemia and a deficiency of iron may contribute to spooning with ridging, brittleness, thinness and lack of luster. Also a deficiency of Chromium may contribute to spooning of nails. Finally, a deficiency of Vitamin C may contribute to spooning and other alterations of nails as a symptom of scurvy. Additional information on diagnosing from examining the finger nails, see my CD-ROM or view the page at
www.herbaldave.com/Health_Problems/Finger_Nails.htm . -Herbal Dave
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Fingernails that curve up can indicate that she isn't getting enough protein; either not eating enough or not digesting it properly. It can also be a mineral deficiency. Both would call for PDA to acidify the stomach for better protein digestion and mineral absorption. -Kay Lubecke
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Fingernails – Curve down
Why would your nails begin to curve down? -TonjaWells
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Look to the heart! Parasites, virus, or anything else that is causing deterioration of the heart. I had one case that was real bad, another practitioner. He tested 15 Dong Quai daily. And he did it. 4 weeks later the improvement was so noticeable! Today I would use Co Q 10 as well. Learned that first hand from an old Chinese Doctor in Sydney many years ago. . P.S. mine went like that too but were improved by Dong Quai. -Valerie Steiner
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Q: I know that fingernails that curve up are called spooning. Is that the same if the fingernails curve down? Have a client who has 3 fingernails that as they're growing down around the finger tips. I've viewed Dave Satterlee's web page (www.herbaldave.com) on fingernails but this problem isn't mentioned. Thanks for any help. -Norma Anderson
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Rounded, excessively curved nails can indicate B-12 deficiency. -Chottsie
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Any suggestions of what might be causing very dry skin around the cuticles? All of our lotions have helped. I've also used olive oil, which has helped the most. I take a lot of supplements!!! (immune, nervous, brain, workout herbs, etc.). I get EFA's through olive oil and black olives. -Susan
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Do you have Fibromyalgia? This is one of the symptoms of FMS. We have found it takes a lot of the oils Flax Seed Oil, Primrose, and Black Current all taken at the same time to correct this. Some have mentioned that they have had this problem sometimes months and years before a FMS diagnoses. -Ardis
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You might try Flax Seed Oil internally. -Tonja Wells
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Vitamin A and D improved my dry and split cuticles. I took 100,000 mg a day for about 1 week then down to 50,000 mg, then down to my normal amount. It helped a great deal. -Margaret Johnson
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I had the worse cuticles ever! Also the worse fingernails. I don't really know why the cuticles get dry but I do know whenever someone recommended I do the Herbal CA for my nails my cuticle problem went away. Since then and that has been several years ago, I have used it with many of my clients that have had either cuticle problems or nail problems and it helps both. I suspect that the nail bed which has to be healthy before a healthy nail can be formed also plays a part in the dry cuticles. A lot of people told me it was because my hands were in water all the time ( I was a waitress). A dermatologist told me the same thing. But now that my nails are healthy and my hands are still all the time in water (I'm x-ray tech). I do not have the problem. -Martha Trahan
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Lack of Vitamin A in the diet. Golden Salve is a great treatment, but Vitamin A supplementation is a wonderful preventative. This is often caused by a lack of ESSENTIAL fatty acids in the diet. Often a result of low fat diets. Add Black Currant Oil or Evening Primrose Oil and it should correct rather quickly. -Kay Lubecke
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Recently I have decreased the amount of Vitamin A & D I take as you always wonder if you take too much. I used to take 30,000 IU daily. Since reducing the amount, I noticed that my cuticles got dry and tore very easily. They even bled occasionally. I attributed it to the very dry weather we have in the desert rather than a lack of Vitamin A. This weekend I got a bad cold and was packed in a room with 125 other people. I quickly increased my Vitamin A & D, along with other things, to get my immune system up to par. My cuticles IMMEDIATELY began to heal--I could see it within 24 hours.

Moral of the story? If your cuticles are bad, you may not be taking enough Vitamin A & D and your immune system may not be able to keep away whatever is going around.
PS - Hypothyroidism makes it very hard to utilize Vitamin A--thus the need for larger doses for those who have it. It also makes it almost impossible to convert Beta-Carotene into vitamin A. Therefore, I always recommended our Vitamin A & D tablet. -Kay Lubecke
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Fingernail Moons
What does the lack of moons indicate?? -Lrwlaw
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One train of thought was circulation and another I believe was thyroid. -Georgiana
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The lack of half moons, according to my source, indicates: Lack of circulation and low pressure. Underactive Thyroid, Sodium/Potassium imbalance. Excessive half moons, especially if also excessively shiny, indicates: Overactive thyroid.

This came up because I was noticing the improvement in the Vertical Ridges of my fingernails (I think due to MSM) and realized I only had half moons on my thumbs. I have a list of Fingernail Indicators of Deficiency and I don't know if these are truly indications of anything. -Margaret Johnson
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No half moons or ridged nails indicates a Vitamin A deficiency, kidney disorder or protein deficiency. -Nedra Denison
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Q: I have "moons" on my thumbs but not the rest of my fingernails. Just curious, anyone ever heard of this? Thanks -Annette Mason
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IF the thumb is the only place you have moons, you are very low in minerals, especially calcium. Herbal CA is a good calcium, but some people also need TS-II to be able to utilize the calcium. -JS
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How would TS-II help in that way? -Kathy MacLaren
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How would TS-II help? The thyroid governs where the calcium goes in the body. And TS-II feeds the thyroid. (Also the Pituitary, etc.) -JS
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No moons on fingernails indicates poor circulation and depression. You should have moons on all but your pinkie finger. If you have them on the pinkie finger it indicates a tendency of heart dis-ease. If the moons are very high on your fingers, it indicates high blood pressure. High moons on the thumbs is ok. Low moons on thumbs indicates that you're not assimilating minerals. -Ann Souther
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Hi Ann, Can you explain what you mean by "high" on the nail? Is that a"little" or a "big" moon? -Georgiana Duncan
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A high moon means it's a larger moon. -Ann Souther
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Actually, the moons indicate the level of calcium in the body. The healthiest people I have seen have a moon in every fingernail...and they should be in order with the thumb being the largest, and each finger should have a smaller moon, in order with the little finger having the smallest. However, if the moons are out of order, one needs iodine to help send the calcium where it belongs.

The Tiao He Cleanse is a good start, to clear out debris, and I like Kelp and Herbal CA ....lots. -JS
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Dr. TSU-TSAIR CHI N.M.D, Ph.D says in his book " Dr. Chi's method of Fingernail & Tongue Diagnosis" in chapter 5, page 35, that a healthy person should be able to see 8 lunulae on their fingernails, 4 on each hand. They should not be too large or too small. Absence of one or more lunulae, or smaller lunulae than normal, signal a deficiency in cellular oxygen levels.

This type of deficiency leads to symptoms such as cold hands, cold feet, and sometimes a general numbness in certain parts of the body.

Page 37: If there are less than 8 lunulae on all the fingernails, then there is a problem with poor circulation. A person who is lacking lunulae on between 3&7 fingernails often has symptoms of fatigue and has low energy, is weak spirited. This condition also shows poor circulation, cold hands and feet, numbness, and memory loss. A person who has 2 large lunulae on the pinkies has a very overworked heart and is more prone to suffer from high blood pressure and heart disease than a healthy person. A person who has no lunulae at all often suffers from anemia, depression and low blood pressure.

Chapter 6 Page 38: If the tops of the nails are wide while the bottoms of the nails are much narrower, this could be indicative of the possibility of stroke and other cardiovascular problems. Stroke is also possible if the lunulae are oversized and quite large. If there are less than 8 lunulae on all the fingernails, then there is a problem with poor circulation.

I refer to his book when helping people learn how to find their own health problems. I have found by asking the person questions, like do you have high blood pressure?, anemia?, depression?, etc. (just like what you are supposed to do when looking at the iris of eye,) that his info is correct. -Ann Souther
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Ann, Thanks for that. I have lost my book by him. It is very interesting to me that a mineral deficiency is also considered to be the 'cause' of this, also. That is one of the good things about this forum [one of many] That there are so many ideas, and possibilities of assistance. While using CoQ10 or Germanium might help for some, Calcium may help for others. We are all so different. Thanks again. -Kathy MacLaren

Fingernails Peeling
The top layer of my finger nails have separated and you can peal like bark on a tree. I recently started taking Calcium, Colloidal Minerals and Enzymes. Any ideas what causes this in nails? How long do I continue with this program? -Gigi
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It's a sign of HCL deficiency. If you are taking Food Enzymes, it's in there. -Chottsie
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This is usually due to a lack of protein (or poor protein assimilation—use PDA for this) or a lack of iron. My nails tear crosswise every time I slack off on taking my NSP iron. (Editors Note: Dandelion will provide iron and result in stronger nails also). -Kay Lubecke
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I began having that problem....wasn't getting enough "oil". Am now taking Black Currant Oil & E. -Patsy Reynolds
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When people have cracked fingertips especially in cold weather – essential fatty acids may help the problem. I.e., Black Currant Oil, etc. In the meantime, Pau D' Arco Lotion and or Healing AC Cream will help it heal.
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It sounds like they are deficient in Omega 3 oils... Have them take Flax Seed Oil. They should see some results in 2-3 weeks. -Herbs2you
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This was a real problem for me...but no more! I soaked the fingertips in liquid Morinda and took the caps as listed on the bottle. Soak about two minutes the leave it on and apply a band-aid-type cover. If very deep keep applying the liquid to the band-aid. Relief comes in minutes. If I neglect taking the Morinda caps, it returns. -Patsy Reynolds
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Anyone have any idea why fingernails peel? Just start peeling off in layers. Wouldn't appear to be a lack of anything as she eats very well and takes many herbs, vitamins, etc. including HSN-W. -Geraldine Huisman

Fingernails - Ridged
Would like some information about vertical fingernail ridges. I have found conflicting information. Some say that these vertical lines are the result of poor absorption of calcium and others say they indicate a need for more protein. -Carma
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Vertical ridges on fingernails are often caused by the lack of protein absorption Give this person LOTS of enzymes and you'll usually see the ridges disappear! -Mike
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It could be both reasons or either one. Think about the adrenals and stress. Adrenals need Calcium, protein, Pantothenic Acid, Vitamin C, Licorice, and more. A good idea might be to start with PDA or Food Enzymes, for the HCL to digest both protein and calcium.

Vegetarians who are not careful with their diet can easily become low in protein, which in turn adds stress to the adrenals. Carbohydrate addicts could fall into this category too. Do they have other signs of calcium deficiency? Poor sleep, muscle cramps or tetany, nervous or nerve problems, hormone problems (calcium plays a part in the production of neurotransmitters like seratonin, acetylcholine and norephinephrine), tooth problems, pain, osteoporosis, arthritis, hypertension, heart palpitations, elevated cholesterol........ This is a big subject, really, but I would start with digestion and basic vitamins and minerals. Skeletal Strength is a great combination, and works well to take it at bedtime. It might take a lot and a long while of supplementation to rebuild calcium levels if they are exhausted, but persistent use will pay benefits. And support the adrenals with stress management and a selection of the following products: HS-C, Pantothenic Acid, Nutri-Calm, HY-A or Licorice Root, Master Gland, Ginseng and Vitamin C. -Susan Lebovitz
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I agree, there is a lot of varying information being taught in many classes. I have heard in several different classes the white spots were Zinc deficiency and in others Calcium was the deficiency. The same went for the ridges in the nails. Muscle testing usually proved all that info from the classes was incorrect. -Nedra Denison
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Q: My girlfriend has raised vertical lines and white spots on her fingernails. I told her she need Zinc for the white spots. Can you tell me what she would need for the raised vertical lines? -Cbennettja
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Had a friend with similar problem with vertical lines on her fingernails. She used (uses) HSN-W. It took a few months to really notice the results, but it was worth it, as her nails look great now! -Nancy Main
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Raised vertical lines is a sign of improper digestion. -J Benning
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In Dr. Reuben De Haan's class on face and body diagnosis we learned vertical ridges on the nails indicate history of toxicity and may indicate severity of lining in the colon. Also liver health (Primarily excretions) are weak and generally low vitality. If the vertical ridges are split there is hormone imbalance from the toxicity. White spots on the nails, or any place on the body, indicates the inability to process or digest sugars or dairy products. Horizontal indentations indicate a severe stress or other overload to meridian represented in the finger. I have found his information to be very accurate. His web site is
www.healthcmi.com Health Care Ministry International. This information is also in his book "Physical Diagnosis" benefit from Food enzymes or Proactazyme. -Tonja Wells
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The vertical lines are usually an indication of malabsorption and for this I get great results with Marshmallow and Pepsin taken on an empty stomach 2-3 times per day. Minerals will also help. The white spots are an indication of Zinc or calcium deficiency. If she is not absorbing things properly this would be why. Add Zinc and Colloidal Minerals or Alfalfa. -Kimberly Balas
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Q: Hi, I have deep ridges running from side to side on my thumb nails, but thin, vertical ridges on all my other fingernails. Is this something I should be concerned about, go to the doctor about? I take various vitamins daily and am in good health, as far as I know! Thank you. -Kathy
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Q: When someone has fingernails that have ridges (vertical), is that normal or is it a health condition and if so what can be done to correct it? -Tanya
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Needs more hydrochloric acid - try PDA or Food Enzymes. -Nancy Coulter
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The information I have says that it may indicate a kidney disorder or iron deficiency. Depending on the source you review. The one I reviewed "Footprints on the Path" says kidney disorders. Another book I have also says possible kidney disorders and also states "poor nutrient absorption". A third source I have only mentions iron deficiency. -Lourdes Martinez
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I think you are on track with the iron diff. I have always heard ridges were a sign of low minerals and kidney stress but I have personally battled anemia and can use my fingernails as a gage when my iron is low. When it's up the ridges fade. The kidney's also become strained as well as the liver with anemia. -Laura
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Read the "Fingernails, Jewels or Tools?" on the FAQ page..it is very enlightening. -Miss Sunshine
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Q: I have ridges that go the long way on my finger & toenails. (They are getting better after a few weeks of NSP prods!) I just noticed that there is one pronounced ridge on each fingernail - on the right hand it is just left of the center; on the left hand it is just right of the center. Anybody see this before? Is there a specific reason/cause? Thanks... -Kathy O.
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Vertical ridges on fingernails (going from the base to the tip) are often caused by not having enough enzymes/HCl to digest your protein. I have also heard they can be caused by a lack of iron but tend to try the enzymes first. After all, if they are not breaking down and absorbing their protein, they may not be breaking down and absorbing their iron either!! -Mike, ND
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Splitting nails - lack of Hydrochloric Acid (HCL) contributes to splitting nails. Have you also had problems with digestion for some time? Have you taken antacids periodically?
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Also, if the or ridges on nail are vertical (up and down not side ways) sometimes that indicates an iron deficiency. If you are lacking HCL you may want to try NSP Food Enzymes. Hope this is helpful. -Lourdes Martinez
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Vertical - I was taught that those ridges were caused by the LIVER. Per old Chinese Doctor. So test him on all the liver combinations which includes Eyebright. Valerie
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For several years I had the same ridges that you describe. I also suffered from irregular heart beats from time to time. I seemed to notice that soon after one of these episodes of irregular heart beat, I would develop a new ridge at the base of my thumbnail. When I researched this, I found an article that drew a direct correlation to nail ridges resulting from irregular heart patterns. The article suggested taking omega supplements (fish oil). I immediately started taking three capsules daily, and from that day on I have not had any irregularities, and the ridges have totally disappeared. This was three years ago. -Dottie Teegardin
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Q: What do vertical ridges, not noticeable till you look close, mean on a 9 year olds fingernails? -Annette Mason
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Info from Nature's Treasure chest------lengthwise ridges indicate minor calcium deficiency, horizontal ridges indicates iron deficiency, white specks zinc deficiency, pitting on surface indicates parasites in body, brittle nails Vitamin A & calcium def., weak nails indicates poor protein absorption. -Barbara Moldenhauer
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It has been suggested on this forum to add calcium to the diet. However, check the diet--it might not be the calcium but magnesium needed so the calcium can be used. The ridges are where the narrow plates that form our finger/toe nails join. Usually this is not noticeable, but injury or growth (in a child) can make for calcium shortage. Calcium must be adequately balanced by magnesium and other minerals to go where it belongs to grow. If you need the proportions they are the one in the Skeletal Strength
formula. Lots of breakfast cereals and other foods given to children have extra
calcium in them, but do not balance the calcium with magnesium and phosphorus just to start, let alone contain the trace minerals that help out also. That leaves you with two things to check: diet and pH. -Marilyn Navarro
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Vertical or lengthwise ridges also indicate protein supply or assimilation problems and can be (although not in your client's case) a sign of aging. -Judith Cobb
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Fingernails - Cross-Wise Ridges in Thumbnails
Q: I have deep ridges running from side to side on my thumb nails, but thin, vertical ridges on all my other fingernails. Is this something I should be concerned about, go to the doctor about? I take various vitamins daily and am in good health, as far as I know! -Kathy
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Kathy, Do you have white lines AND horizontal ridges on the thumbs? If you do, this can indicate arsenic poisoning. Horizontal ridges can also indicate a B-vitamin deficiency. Another reason for horizontal lines is when there is severe stress on the body, either emotionally, from disease and/or infection. Genetics can play a role in different nail types so if you've always had this, could be genetic. And then again it may not be any of these things and nothing to worry about. Try taking a B-Complex supplement if you are not already doing so. Maybe someone else is aware of other substances or deviancies which indicate horizontal lines on fingernails or thumbnails. It is odd that the lines are only on the thumbs--I'm not sure of the reasoning behind that except that we are all unique. -Regina King
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I would tend to think it was related to a trace mineral deficiency such as silica. Our HSN Complex is very high in the trace minerals needed for the hair, skin, and nails.
B-complex is also a good idea. -Valerie G.
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I have a lady that uses Food Enzymes for this problem it must work she, always sends for a bottle when the ridges reappear. -Dwayne Ward
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Going across your nail ( side to side) is stress or diet change. Going up and down your nail ( top to bottom) is mineral deficiency. This is what I was taught. Be sure and use enzymes to make sure you are absorbing your minerals. You can do Colloidal Minerals or Mineral Maintenance. -Tonja Wells
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I would also add to the Enzymes some Small Intestine Detox. This will help to clean up your small intestine which is where most of your absorption takes place. -Peggy Day
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I am not sure where this information would originally have come from. We were taught that tip to cuticle ridges mean Calcium deficiency and horizontal mean Iron. Every time I let my iron level drop, my nails tear horizontally. A few days of increased iron supplementation and the tearing stops. So, I am going to stand by my original information given on the Forum & in Recipes for Success about fingernail ridges. -Kay Lubecke
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I think you are on track with the iron diff. I have always heard ridges were a sign of low minerals and kidney stress but I have personally battled anemia and can use my fingernails as a gage when my iron is low. When it's up the ridges fade. The kidney's also become strained as well as the liver with anemia. -Laura
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I have also heard both explanations of vertical fingernail ridges. I felt like the ridges would be Calcium related – then one would need to decide if there was a lack of calcium or if there was malabsorption of calcium. -Rayelee Sheppard
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Fingernails Splitting
My fingernails have been pealing or splitting lately. I never had problems with them before, always had long nails. I do take Calcium-Magnesium. I can't seem to pinpoint this. -Chottsie
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Try MSM with HSN-W...amazing results for your nails...-mthrherb
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Fingernails: Lengthwise ridges indicate calcium deficiency, Crosswise tearing indicates iron deficiency, Little white specks indicate zinc deficiency, General weakness indicates poor protein assimilation (PDA), HSN-W or Horsetail plus Dandelion strengthens nails. Add MSM for further strengthening. -Kay Lubecke
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This happens to me a lot. If I take 4-5 Dandelion it helps a lot. Try it. -health

Fingernails Thin
I have a person who is having trouble with his fingernails, they are becoming very thin, I told him I, from what I researched it could be he is not getting enough oxygen in his system. He is a smoker, and has Aids, he has had aids about 4 or 5 years now and is doing good according to his aids doctor. His T cells are excellent, does anyone have any other thought on the thinning fingernails? -Jeannette Romanofsky
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Is he on a protease inhibitor? One of the side effects could be thin fingernails. I know that another side effect is cardio vascular problems. -John
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Along that thought – I started on Protease. After a few months, I noticed my nails became extremely strong. -Georgiana Duncan
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Q: I have a Question: Now that I have clarity on possible diagnoses (accd'g to nails), I'm confused as to who/what experts to see regarding this. It's difficult to find truly qualified, professional, and knowledgeable physicians &/or alternative practitioners these days. Traditional MDs (as a rule) are so closed-minded, they've ignored or refused to acknowledge that the exterior could link directly to specific things going on inside, etc, etc. My health is really scary-awful now, and has been for over 7 yrs., getting worse and worse. I've seen doctor after doctor, specialists, alternative ppl, etc., w/no real results or answers, or, if they do give me answers they tell me my case is so involved and complex they don't know where to start first. My nails embarrassingly wavy/bubbly, speckled, ridged, hammered, etc. Docs (traditional MDs) keep telling me it's cuticle damage, but in my case, I know this isn't the case. My hair is falling out (literally)—every day in the shower, a whole cleaned-out brush worth of hair comes out. Very scary. Anyway, if you have any info regarding specialists, docs, etc, you'd recommend I contact/see, please let me know. I would greatly appreciate any help you could send my way. Thanks so much, and best of health to you. -Anne
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I would start with the basics. Preferably Vita Wave (Liquid multi + veg minerals), Thai Go (search on FAQ page) - high antioxidants. Fiber (and bowel stimulant if necessary), Food Enzymes for your digestion. Stay on this for a month -- See how you are feeling. THEN do the "Self Test" for thyroid. -Georgiana
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Q: Hello, I was on the website but did not find my problem. I thought maybe you could help. I do have arthritis in my fingers so I do have knots on my fingers and a couple of them are turning, I am sure you know what I mean. The nails on my right hand are growing to a point which means the end breaks off if I hit them. I do not have this on my left hand. My nails are hard and strong. The thing I am really wondering about is that on two of my fingernails on my left hand and two on my right hand, the ends of the nails that are white, the white is going back toward the middle of my nail. Have you seen that before? I would appreciate if you could let me know as I am getting concerned and have been thinking about going to the doctor. I just hate going to the doctor if I do not have to. I am 64, luckily at this time I have no medical problems, that I know of, so the nails are concerning me. Thank you, Joan Curto
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Others may have more advice for you Joan, but I strongly sense that you need minerals in abundance here. With the arthritis, organic sodium (NOT table salt) is short in your diet. The white in your nails could be calcium out of solution which is true anyway because you have arthritis. The brittle nails can also be silicon deficiency - HSN-W from NSP would be good here. Stop the white sugar and white flour products - they're not doing you any good! -Mike
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In a Nail Symptomotology class they gave Visual exams for nutritional deficiency using the nails.

Clubbed nails they described as finger nails bending down over the tips of the finger.
It was a sign of emphysema, TB, Cancer, Cardiovascular disease, chronic cough.

Spoon - or nails that tended to grow away from the finger and round up like a spoon was Iron deficiency, anemia, B12 deficiency

White Marks - low zinc low calcium

1/2 and 1/2 nails (brown at the tip) - kidney problems

Yellow nails - delicate liver, lymphatic, respiratory, diabetes, liver problems

Pale nails - anemia, liver or kidney disorders

Lengthwise grooves - mineral deficiency, iron deficiency, tendency to arthritis

Chronic chipping - looks like sawteeth - damage due to household or occupational chemicals.

Thin, splitting nails - deficiency Magnesium, Zinc Manganese, EFA's
-Diane Toombs
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Q: Anyone know what it means if you have white marks on the finger nails? -Lynne
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White spots Traditionally, holistic practitioners have recognized white spots on fingernails as being an indication of low zinc. Additionally, white spots can indicate low calcium or injuries to the fingernail. -Sharon Grimes
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I did not Muscle test for zinc, so I bet it is calcium. I think I am to acidic because my knees are acting up again. I just ordered KB-C so that should help some. What do you suggest to take for calcium, because I do not do well on the nutrient and I am looking for a herb replacement. -Lynne
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Your could try Herbal CA and HSN-W in combination; or use the new Sea Calcium. Have you checked you first morning pH? That sure would give you a good idea about your acidity levels. -Sharon Grimes
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My nails have been completely white or slightly pink for as long as I can remember, should be concerned? -Doug
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This is often a sign of anemia, and yes, you should be concerned. It is rare for a man to be anemic, and often when they are it is caused by bleeding at a site in the gastrointestinal tract. -Sharon Grimes

This list was put together on http://www.nspforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=658&highlight=fingernails by Nature's Sunshine Specialist around the United States, who have excellent experience helping to address health issues with some help from the signs the fingernails show. Thank you to all for this great information. I am sure it will help many toward better health to know all the above.
Share the Health,
Karen Herrmann-Doolan, NSP District Manager
Nature's Sunshine Herb Specialist
Natural Health Educator
O: 704-966-6645
H: 704-588-7638
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Check out my Health & Nutrition Blog!


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