Are your nails healthy? Let’s find out through some Ayurvedic nail analysis.

Red, Puffy Nail Fold:If you notice a red, puffy border along the nail fold, this is typically a sign of parasites or infection in the system.  Parasites are prevalent in many individuals and have multiple causes , major is poor hygiene. Parasites are efficiently treated in Ayurveda though proper diet and herbs.

White Spots:White spots on the nails are very common. Of course, if this is just a one time occurrence, it may simply be due to a trauma to that part of the nail.  Often however, this is seen on more than one nail and is a recurring issue.  If you are experiencing the latter, this simply means that there is a calcium, zinc and/or magnesium deficiency in the body

Pitting of the Nail:Nail pitting is typically seen in individuals that either have psoriasis, eczema or another inflammatory skin disorder. Nail pitting can also can occur when an individual has alopecia, Lupus (SLE) or another connective tissue disorder.  If you see pitting and do not currently have any of these conditions, this may be a sign that you are at risk for one of these disorders.  Therefore, other areas should be investigated to see if there are any other warning symptoms or signs occurring.

Nail Biting:Nail biting is an all telling sign of excessive Vata in the system.  This is typically a symptom of high anxiety, worry or fear; all of which are Vata imbalances in the Nervous System.  This can be a chronic or acute issue, depending on the individual

Yellow Nails:One potential issue is a fungal infection.  This is more common as you grow older, although any individual can be at risk.  A fungal infection can affect one nail selectively or multiple nails at once.  Fungal infections can be due to genetics, lowered immunity, liver issues, toxins in the system, or excessive use of nail polish (or a combination of these) to name a few.  Other common cause  is jaundice or other liver issues, tuberculosis, lung infections, or side effects from medications.

Pale Nails:Pale nails typically show anemia (low red blood cells) in the system.  This can be due to excessive blood loss (heavy menstruation or injury); an iron, folate or B12 deficiency; ulcer, parasitical infection, certain medications (including NSAIDS), chronic diseases such a cancer, rheumatoid arthritis or HIV; or many different autoimmune conditions. One can look to see if other symptoms are involved (or not); as well as inspect the tongue and the pink under the eye (when stretched down) to see if these areas are also pale.

Bluish-Purple Nails:If you see a bluish-purple tint to your nails, this may signify that there is a lack of oxygen in the system causing hypoxia or acute cyanosis (lack of oxygen to the tissues). There may be a pulmonary infection such as chronic bronchitis, or a long-term condition such as asthma or emphysema.

Longitudinal Lines on the Nails:These long lines are all too common and clear sign of malabsorption of nutrients in the body. They  cover the entire nail, from the bottom to the top. The deeper the lines however, the stronger the deficiency .These lines can relate to poor digestion, excessive toxins in the system, inflammation in the GI tract, a Vata digestive disorder (Vishama Agni), a Kapha digestive disorder (Manda Agni), a Pitta digestive disorder (Tikshna Agni) or a poor diet in general.

Horizontal Lines on nails: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. This shows a vitiated digestion at the time of growth. In some cases, these multiple lines can relate to the involvement of an under-active thyroid.

Nail Separation (Onycholysis):Onycholysis is when nail begins to separate from the nail bed causing a white discoloration.  If the white discoloration becomes yellow, it is most likely that the nail has obtained a secondary infection due to the separation.  Onycholysis is commonly caused by skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis; but also can stem from trauma, excessive manicures, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, primary fungal infection, poor circulation or inflammatory arthritis.

Clubbed Nails:Not as common as some of these other nail abnormalities, clubbed nails are often prevalent with heart or pulmonary issues.  They may occur in tuberculosis, pneumonia, chronic bronchitis, congestive heart failure or mitral stenosis.  No matter the cause, clubbing of the fingers typically is a sign that the peripheral tissues are not getting a sufficient amount of oxygen and there is low Prana in the body as per Ayurveda.

Spooned Nails (Koilonychia):A “spooned” nail is a nail that is flat or concave at the surface, scooping in the center.  This can range in severity, with the worse cases causing a splitting of the nail down the middle.  The most common cause for the spooned nail is iron deficiency anemia (also see “pale nails” above).  Other causes are autoimmune issues such as Lupus (SLE), psoriasis, lichen planus or Raynaud’s Disease; genetics disorders, vascular disease or trauma.

According to Ayurveda, the nail is a mala of asthi dhatu. Thus, any changes in the nail indicated the dushti of asthidhatwagni. We can also diagnosis psychological disorders examine the nail with relation of asthi dhatu.Psychology and the Asthi Dhatu-Asthi dhatu is more than the structural tissues of the body.  On a psychological level it is what allows a person to stand up for them selves within the world. One’s stature is not a function of size but quality. When the asthi dhatu is weak, so is one’s ability to stand solid in the face of adversity or controversy. This should not be mistaken as courage. It is steadfastness. It is the ability to be unwavering in one’s convictions. When the asthi dhatu is healthy there is a healthy confidence in one’s ideas, decisions and beliefs.As the asthi dhatu increases and becomes excessive, the qualities of the earth element increase and a person becomes overly attached, obstructive and stubborn. It becomes difficult to move or shift directions. When the asthi dhatu is deficient, the qualities of the earth element decrease and there is little attachment causing a person to shrink to the background flowing with the will of others.Kapha dosha is responsible for excesses in asthi dhatu. Vata dosha is responsible for deficiencies. Short term pitta imbalances do not greatly affect the psychological aspect of the asthi dhatu. However, long term vitiation burns out the dhatu resulting in deficiency.In the subtle body, the health of the asthi dhatu is dependent upon the flow through the muladhara chakra. Prana flowing through this chakra carries the qualities of the earth element throughout the subtle body and creates a solid sense of self. The flow of prana through anahata and vishuddha chakras is also important.  Through these chakras, the qualities of air and ether are circulated respectively. As the flow of prana increases through these chakras so too do their respective elemental qualities and this results in a weakening of the asthi dhatu both physically and psychologically.