The story appears on

Page B3

April 26, 2011

GET this page in PDF

Free for subscribers

View shopping cart

Related News

Home » Feature » Health and Environment

Nail clues to your health

ACCORDING to traditional Chinese medicine, the condition of fingernails is a good indication of overall physical health. Strong, pinkish, smooth nails with a white crescent at the base is a generally a sign of good health.

But you don't have to be Chinese doctor to know that healthy nails are good sign.

Nails, which are composed of the protein keratin (like the hooves and horns of cattle), in Chinese theory are said to be composed of surplus energy and blood. Since sufficiency of blood and energy circulation are necessary for good health, the condition of nails, to some extent, reflects general health.

It's not as useful as a blood test, but examining fingernails is helpful to a doctor.

Wang Wen Wen Qie (Observation, Auscultation and Olfaction, Inquiry, Pulse feeling and Palpation) are the four main diagnosis methods in TCM.

"The color of the face, the gloss of skin, the brightness in eyes and coordination in movement are all at the top of the observation list for an experienced doctor, and they provide a general impression of health," says Dr Li Genghe, head of Internal Medicine at the Shanghai Chinese Clinical & Medicine House.

"Smooth, pink nails and possibly the half moon (lunula) at the base usually indicate good blood and energy circulation, even in the extremities," she says.

Pale, brittle and bluish nails are not a good sign.

Dr Li has identified anemia, immunity problems and malnutrition by examining nails; of course, she has spotted nail fungus and signs of skin fungus.

People with anemia often have pale, dry, brittle nails with a warped surface. A rough, powdery surface may indicate a skin and nail fungus. People with immune problems and those who have been taking hormones for a long time may also have rough nails. Purple or dark spots on nails are usually a sign of bleeding and possibly poor coagulation.

Nails that split into layers can be a symptom of malnutrition, says Dr Li. Keeping nails covered with polish is a major cause because it inhibits normal "breathing" of the nails.

She rejects the widespread belief among Chinese people that white spots in the nails are a sign of parasites in the intestines. Only parasite eggs in the stool indicates the presence of parasites in intestines, she says.

Some people say the lunula, the milk arc at the base of the nail, is a strong indicator of health.

One of them is Zhong Li Ba Ren, whose real name is Zheng Fuzhong, author of the bestseller "Qiu Yi Bu Ru Qiu Ji" ("Asking Help from a Doctor is no Better Than Asking from Yourself") (2009). Zheng is a director at the Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Association.

He asserts that clearly defined lunulas taking up around one-fifth of each nail, except the little finger, are the best sign of good health. People with small lunulas are often bothered by "pathogenic cold" and weak immunity, he claims.

Those with blurry or dark-colored half moons may have some other problem that requires medical attention.

The vertical ridges in fingernails become more prominent with age but are seldom signs of any problem. The efficiency of blood circulation decreases with age, so nails get less nutrition and may become pale and ridged.

Ridges can be caused by dryness as well as poor nutrition. Lotions and vitamins can help.

Horizontal lines can indicate serious problems: see a doctor.


Copyright © 1999- Shanghai Daily. All rights reserved.Preferably viewed with Internet Explorer 8 or newer browsers.

沪公网安备 31010602000204号

Email this to your friend