Nails have always been a major part of women’s beauty. But did you know that nails are also an external sign of the state of a healthy body and mind for both females and males?
To understand what are healthy and unhealthy nails, it is important to know the following things.
What are healthy nails from TCM point of view?
The colour of the nails should be pink/red without white, black, or brown spots.
The shape should be naturally rounded covering the fingertip and there shouldn’t be a gap between the nail and the skin. The surface should be smooth without irregular patterns.
The nails should look firm, not too thin, not too thick, and not too weak.
Nails should grow gradually and evenly, generally we should cut them once a week and allow them to re-grow regularly.
How are nails associated with the internal organs and meridians (channels)?
Chinese medicine considers that nails have a relationship with different internal organs and channels. If certain internal organs are imbalanced, they will affect the health of certain nails.
Nails of the hands
- Nails of thumbs: Lung and Large Intestine channels and organs
- Nails of index finger: Large Intestine channel and organ
- Nails of middle finger: Pericardium channel
- Nails of ring finger: Sanjiao channel (trunk area which is associated with metabolism, digestion and circulation)
- Nails of little finger: Heart channel and organ
Nails of the feet
- Nails of big toes: Spleen and Liver channel and organs
- Nails of 2nd and 3rd toe: Stomach channel and organ
- Nails of 4th toe: Gallbladder channel and organ
- Nails of little toe: Urinary bladder channel and organ
A case study
I would like to share one of my cases with you about nails and internal organs. I had a female patient who had suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome for 7 months before coming to see me. During the initial consultation I realised that she had pain in the forearm with pain and numbness on the index finger and thumb. The colour of the nails was mild purple. At the same time she suffered from constipation, bloating and flatulence (passing wind).
After my traditional Chinese medicine diagnosis, I told her that her pain was a consequence of food stagnation and heat-toxins in the Large Intestine. I focused my treatment on unblocking the Large Intestine channel and also clearing the heat-toxins from the Large Intestine and after five sessions of acupuncture her pain disappeared. At the same time the constipation and bloating were also gone.
The relationship between nails and bones
From the Five Elements theory, Chinese medicine recognises there is a close relationship between the Kidneys, Bones and Nails. To illustrate an example from nature, the roots of the tree are the Kidneys, the branches are the Bones and the leaves are the Nails. This indicates that the health of the nails are closely related to the function of the Kidneys.
In clinical practice, some patients who suffer from weak Kidneys, not only have unhealthy nails but can also have symptoms such as low back pain, lack of energy, frequent urination, insomnia, poor memory, low libido, grey hair in early age, knee and ankle pain, or impotence.
Don’t ignore the following sign: a dark streak
If you notice an abnormal dark streak or spot on your nail, especially if it is only found on one finger or toe, we suggest visiting your doctor (western medicine) for an examination as soon as possible. This could be a sign of melanoma which is a very dangerous form of skin cancer.
Do you have a habit of biting your nails?
This habit is very common, it not only happens to children but also to adults. In my clinical experience this is due to a weakness in the Liver and to excessive stress.
People who have this habit will often have other symptoms such as stiff neck and shoulders, headaches, anxiety or depression, insomnia, vivid dreams, breast fullness and tenderness before the period, bloating, or period pain.
Usually after balancing the Liver and strengthening the body’s ability to deal with stress with our traditional Chinese medicine treatment, the habit of biting nails will disappear.
Our body is very smart and gives us many ways to find out about the health of our internal organs. Don’t forget your nails are one of them.
Girls (and guys), please always pay attention to the appearance of your nails. It is a good time to check your nails especially before cutting or colouring them.