Did you know Ayurveda uses nail analysis to help determine dosha imbalances and health issues? Just like reading the pulse or the tongue, the nails are an extension of the asthi dhatu (or the bone tissue), and can indicate health imbalances. Below, we’ll walk through some of the ways that Ayurveda can help you grow thicker and stronger nails.

What Your Nails Say About Your Health

Observing the nails can tell a lot about what's going on inside of the body. If you're experiencing health problems, your nails may reflect the issues. Therefore, when your general health improves, you'll likely see an improvement in the health and aesthetic of your nails.

With that said, many Ayurvedic practitioners can recognize small changes in the nail bed and determine associated health imbalances. Some of the health problems detected by nail analysis include issues related to:

  • Digestion
  • Heart health
  • Metabolism
  • Skin health
  • Parasites
  • Inflammation
  • Malabsorption
  • Thyroid issues
  • Bone health

The Nails and the Doshas

The first step in understanding how to use Ayurvedic medicine for nails is to recognize that the doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) impact the shape, color, curve, and thickness of your nails. Therefore, if you are dominant in one dosha or are experiencing a doshic imbalance, your nails may display certain characteristics. Specifically:

  • Nails significantly impacted by the Vata dosha are generally more flat, brittle, or dry, with a darkened or more bluish or purplish color (this may indicate poor circulation). The cuticles may be rough, and the moon (the little white curve at the cuticle) will often be small.
  • Nails significantly impacted by the Pitta dosha tend to be soft, pink, elongated, and quite curved, in either direction. They are often thick, smooth, flexible, and with a medium to large-sized moon. They can be shiny and smooth!
  • Nails significantly impacted by the Kapha dosha are often strong, thick, and rarely ever break. Despite this strength, they are often soft, oily, and with malleable cuticles. Because of the slow and sluggish digestion of the Kapha individual, the moon is typically small and not very pronounced.

Disorders of the Nails

After you understand the doshic nail types, you can begin to recognize nail changes and what they mean so you can adjust your diet and lifestyle accordingly. You can also get to know specific symptoms of health issues. Some common nail symptoms to look for include:

  • Nail-biting can be a result of excess Vata dosha and may indicate the nervous system is under a lot of stress.
  • Paleness may indicate an issue with red blood cell count or anemia. It may also indicate malabsorption or a specific vitamin deficiency.
  • Clubbed nails (which is recognized by severe vertical curving) could indicate issues with the cardiovascular system or respiratory system. 
  • Horizontal ridges (nails with little "hills" on them) could indicate a thyroid issue or other metabolic imbalance.
  • Yellowing can indicate a parasite, infection, or excess ama (toxins) in the body.
  • White spots may indicate some sort of trauma to the nail, but oftentimes, it is an indication of a missing nutrient or malabsorption.

Ayurvedic Nail Treatment

Depending on the nail disorder, your treatment protocol will vary. That's why it's so important to consult with an Ayurvedic physician or practitioner to determine the best treatment specific to your constitution and imbalance. However, there are some changes you can incorporate right away, including: 

  • Eat a Vata-pacifying diet. This includes warm, nutrient-rich, and nourishing foods like kitchari or steamed vegetables with Ghruta ghee.
  • Massage your nails and cuticles with warm Ghruta ghee, sesame oil or jojoba oil. The nourishing oils will help to hydrate the nails and keep the skin around the nails soft and nourished.
  • Eat Chyawanprash daily. Chyawanprash is full of tridoshic herbs and spices that nourish and tone the entire system and help to balance each dosha.
  • Take Triphala. Triphala helps to balance the digestive system and aids in the absorption of nutrients, which helps to strengthen asthi dhatu.
  • You can also improve the health, shine, and growth of your hair by incorporating herbal supplements into your diet. PIOR Living Hair, for example, includes a blend of 30 Ayurvedic herbs and spices that come together to support nourishment, circulation, and detoxification in support of healthier hair. 

In addition to nails, bone tissue (asthi dhatu) is also responsible for your hair, so following the above practices can also help keep your hair healthy and prevent hair loss.

For more information about how Ayurveda can improve the health of your hair, check out our Ayurvedic Hair Care Guide.

Ceanna Saatsaz is a Licensed Master Esthetician, Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, and Certified Professional Herbalist from Seattle, WA.

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