Healthy nails according to Chinese medicine

Healthy nails according to Chinese medicine

12 April 2023 – 3 min read

Chinese medicine believes your nails are the external reflection of an internal condition. What might your nails be reflecting?

Nail diagnosis has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for about a million years (ok, maybe thousands of years, yeesh). So if you’re looking for new (ancient) insights about what's going on with your nails rn, look no further.

In Chinese medicine nails are considered to be a reflection of Qi, aka vital energy, and blood. Good circulation of qi and blood = good general health. If your nails aren’t doing too well, there’s a solid chance something’s not going quite right somewhere else in your body. What could your nails be telling you?

What does Chinese medicine have to say about your nail health?

Here’s the Chinese medicine DL on some common nail issues.

Pale, brittle nails

According to Chinese medicine healthy nails (think pink, supple and strong nails) mean your qi and blood are in good form. Pale and brittle nails are a sign your blood is ‘deficient’.

Yep, it sounds totally tragic. But don’t worry, it’s not as bad as all that. It basically means your blood isn’t nourishing and moistening your nails. When you compare it to what we know about nail structure, this is actually spot on. Nails get all their nutrients from blood flow to the nail plate. So, what can you do about it? Chinese medicine recommends building your blood with iron rich foods, avoiding excessive exercise, and getting in some R&R. Sign us up.

White spots

Who doesn’t have these? They are so common it’s crazy. White spots are caused by mild trauma to the nail, like getting it caught in a drawer. That’s why you see them slowly grow out. It’s also a sign of magnesium and zinc deficiency. In Chinese medicine, this is usually because of weak ‘spleen qi’.

In Chinese medicine each organ has its own special brand of qi and the spleen is the major digestive organ. So when its’ qi is under par you get nutritional deficiencies. Like magnesium and zinc, for example. Boost your spleen qi by eating at regular times, avoiding eating too late at night, getting your fill of root vegetables, and slowing down on the liquids.

No moons at the bottom of your nails

If you want to get technical they’re actually called lunulas. They’re the white curved semi-circle at the base of your nails that mirrors your nail tips. If you’re missing yours get onto the ginger tea, especially in the mornings.

Chinese medicine puts the missing moons down to weak digestive fire, also known by the catchy name ‘pathogenic cold’. You’d more likely know it as bad digestion, a sluggish metabolism, and weak immune system. If you want your moons back or to fix your gut, do all the things we mentioned to fix your spleen qi, then add some spice. Black and cayenne pepper, cardamom and licorice root, to be exact. And don’t forget the ginger tea.

Ridged nails

You may have heard this happens naturally with age, and you would have heard right. Because, as we age, our blood circulation slows and stops delivering as many nutrients to the nail bed. Chinese medicine recommends keeping your qi and blood strong with appropriate diet and exercise so you can live to a ripe old age. As can your youthful, unridgey nails.

It's worth noting that ridged nails can sometimes indicate a serious underlying problem. So check in with your GP if you’re concerned.

Keen to treat your nail woes topically? 

The Kester Black Nail Care Set is the secret to nourished natural nails and was designed for every stage of your nail journey.

Start with the Rest & Repair Mask and Self Love Oil, both crafted to hydrate and moisturise dry, splitting, peeling, and flaking nails.

Once your nails regain their health, you can transition to using the Miracle Treatment Base Coat (a natural nail strengthener proven to reduce breakages and prevent yellowing) and Supersonic Top Coat. The Self Love Oil is suitable for use on both bare and manicured nails and can be applied daily.

Shop nail care

Want to learn more? Here's a handy write-up on how to treat damaged nails depending on your concern.

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