Most of us are trying to create a life of physical, mental and emotional balance. According to Ayurveda, one way we can do this is by paying attention to clues from our body. For example, face mapping can help us gain insight into the inner workings of our body by paying attention to where flare-ups and wrinkles appear. Similarly, nail reading can offer important clues about our health. The next time you find yourself twiddling your thumbs, take a moment to look closely at them ... you never know what you may learn.
1. Your nails can help you identify your dosha.
To begin, your nails can help determine your dominant dosha: Vata, Pitta, or Kapha. Knowing your dosha can help you find the ideal diet and lifestyle choices for your best health. (To learn more about your dosha, start here.)
2. The color of your nails is also an important indicator of health.
If your nails seem pale or paler than usual, you may want to get tested for anemia and increase your iron intake (think leafy greens). A bluish tinge can indicate poor absorption of oxygen into your bloodstream, or even a heart condition. If you’re starting to notice a yellow hue to your nails, it may indicate poor liver function or the presence of liver toxins.
In a small number of cases, people notice red dots or excessive redness of the nails, which may indicate an excess of red blood cells in the body — something worth mentioning to your doctor the next time you stop in for a check up.
3. The texture and shape of your nails can offer clues to your health.
Moving on to texture, we first want to look for vertical ridges in the nails. Relatively common, these can indicate poor absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream as well as possible toxin build up in the intestines. Ayurveda recommends a detox to rid your system of waste (e.g., warm water fasts in the morning or consuming laxatives like flaxseeds, psyllium husks, prunes or raisins soaked overnight) followed by measures to rekindle the digestive fire in the system (cardiovascular exercise and spices).
Look out for distortion in the nails: clubbing (thick, almost claw-like formation) of nails can indicate poor heart and lung function whereas a convex hollowness in your nail may indicate poor iron absorption (again, leafy greens and fresh green juices can help). If you notice white, milky patches on the nails, you may be suffering from a calcium or zinc deficiency.
4. Each finger can tell you about your internal state.
Within Ayurveda, each finger corresponds to a specific internal function of an organ, and our nails can give insight into whether our organs are performing at their best:
Abnormalities that relate specifically to nails on one finger may give you reason to consider requesting an exam, especially if they're accompanied by other bodily symptoms. Specifically, discoloration or white spots on a specific fingernail can indicate toxin or calcium build up in the organ it aligns with. White spots on the ring finger may mean calcium deposits in the kidney whereas on the index finger, they might indicate the presence of toxins or calcium in your lungs.
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