Horizontal ridges on the nails
What causes deep horizontal depressions (ridges) on the nails?
Outward physical signs can oftenoffer a good indication of our inner state of health. Many Naturopaths often consider the appearance of the hair, skin and nails as well as facial signs when taking a consultation. Changes or abnormalities in these areas can be signs of deeper imbalances and these can often be detected before they manifest as signs and symptoms in other parts of the body. The condition of the nails are a helpful tool for Naturopath's when determining areas of ill health in the body. There is an interesting saying that goes "the story of his illness is written somewhere on the man".
Nail diagnosis is one modality used to form a clear picture of a patients health. Naturopathy takes into account many different diagnosis signs and symptoms (plus lifestyle, diet, family history, medical history, living environment etc.) in order to devise a holistic treatment plan. Signs on the nails may assist in indicating possible ailments, deficiencies and weakness but should not be considered a definitive diagnosis without also looking at many other aspects of an individuals health in order to get the most informed view.
Nails are comprised of Keratin (protein) a tough substance that protects the end of each finger and toe. Horizontal ridges are not as common as the vertical ridges many people notice on their nails. It is an indication of ill health and warrants further investigation.
Causes of vertical ridges on the nails
- trauma or injury to the site
- kidney or liver disease
- chronic illness
- systemic infections
- they may appear in the time after recovery from an illness (convalescence)
- side effect of medication
Diet tips to improve nail health
- Silica rich foods - onions, celery, cucumbers, barley, oats, root vegetables, slippery elm powder, green leafy vegetables and cereals
- Essential fatty acids - fish oil, flaxseed oil, nuts and seeds, fish, avocados, evening primrose oil, walnuts, sunflowers, seaweed, wheatgerm oil and tofu
- Take slippery elm powder before meals to help improve mineral absorption in the small intestines
- Consume more digestive and enzymatic foods to ensure better mineral absorption such as Apple cider vinger, lemon juice, bitter lettuces (rocket, endive, raddichio, kale)
- Herbs which may assist in improving the appearance of the nails are: Gotu Kola, Horestail and Oats
- Consume more green leafy vegeatables (spinach, bok choy, broccoli, kale, slippery elm powder) as these contain B Vitamins, Silica and folic acid
- Ensure that you consume quality proteins (organic chicken, eggs, tempeh, tofu, red meat, fish, nuts and seeds)
Natural remedies to improve nail health
The following are some general recommendations to improve the health of the nails, however the underlying cause of the horizontal ridges should be addressed:
- B Vitamins, Choline, Inositol and Biotin
- The minerals Zinc, Calcium, Silica and Iron
- Vitamin A
- Essential fatty acids
- Amino acids (proteins) - Cysteine, Methionine and Taurine