Healthy fingernails and toenails are pink, smooth, strong, and shiny. They are not brittle or soft. Fingernails and toenails benefit greatly from good diet and exercise. When nails are unhealthy, there is usually an underlying cause. Nail health can be affected by everything from contact with strong chemicals like household cleansers to liver and thyroid disease.
Sometimes harsh chemicals and other external factors wreck havoc on the nails. In these cases, herbs can improve appearance and structure of the nails. Horsetail, nettle, rosemary, sage, oat straw, evening primrose, garlic, and chamomile are all known to have beneficial effects on fingernails and toenails. Drink tea throughout the day and use as a solution for soaking the nails. A mixture of herbal tea, honey, avocado oil, and egg yolk can work wonders. Apply thirty minutes every day for a month to see noticeable results.
Acupressure can improve nail health. Press three times for ten seconds on the moon of each nail. Rub in a few drops of castor oil concentrating on the cuticle area. Other beneficial oils include diluted carrot seed oil, lavender essential oil, and sandalwood essential oil. The essential oils should be diluted with castor oil, jojoba oil, or olive oil for best results.
Dry and brittle nails call for a mixture of dried horsetail and comfrey. Combine a tablespoon of each herb with two cups of boiling water. Steep twenty minutes or until cool enough to be comfortable. Soak nails in this strong infusion for ten minutes every day for a week.
The appearance of discolored nails can be greatly improved by rubbing with a fresh lemon or soaking for ten minutes in apple cider vinegar. Another remedy is to take chewable papaya enzyme tablets found at most health food stores.
Changes in nail color may be the first sign of an existing health problem. White spots on the nails may be a symptom of zinc deficiency, thyroid, heart, or liver problems. Yellowed nails (if not a result of heavy smoking or overuse of nail polish) may indicate lymph congestion. Green nails are a result of severe bacterial infection and will probably require professional treatments. White nails indicate a liver problem, poor circulation, or anemia. (Exercise may help in these cases.) Blue nails indicate lung and heart problems, a drug reaction, or blood toxicity from too much silver or copper in the diet. Black bands on the nails indicate low adrenal function, radiation poisoning, or a reaction to chemotherapy. Black spots under the nails could be skin cancer.
Changes in shape or texture also may be a sign of existing health issues. No half moons or ridged nails indicate a vitamin A deficiency, kidney disorders, or a protein deficiency. Brittle nails indicate a vitamin A deficiency, vitamin D deficiency, poor circulation, thyroid problems, iron deficiency, kidney disorder, or protein deficiency. Brewer's yeast or wheat germ oil may help. Take two tablespoons of brewer's yeast or two teaspoons of wheat germ oil daily (with meals). Herbs like milk thistle seed and dandelion that support liver health are also good for the nails. Spoon shaped nails indicate anemia or a vitamin B12 deficiency. Pitted, frayed or splitting nails may indicate a vitamin C deficiency. Nails that curve downward may indicate heart and liver disorders. Thick nails may be a result of poor circulation or a nail fungus.
Nail fungus is a stubborn nail problem that can usually be cured with home remedies. Apply tea tree oil as often as possible (at least twice a day) for up to six months. Soaking in a grapefruit seed extract, garlic, and honey mixture can also help. Patience is definitely a virtue when treating nail fungus.
* Always consult with a healthcare professional before taking any herbal remedy.
"The only way to really learn about herbal medicine is to touch and smell herbs, taste them, use them daily, and grow them if possible. Herbal medicine is a way of life. It is not a quick fix." ... Janice Boling, herbalist, web designer, writer, photographer
* Note - the information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
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