Fingernail Problems and Solutions
More significantly, certain changes in the nails' appearance and chemical content may be warning flags that pop up years in advance of an actual disease. Some researchers now see the nails as a major diagnostic tool of the future, as a 'window' on the inner processes of the body. One chemist suggests that a healthy nail may very well mean a healthy body.
Brittle nailsBrittleness is one of the most common nail complaints, and there are several possible reasons why it happens. One is iron deficiency. Researchers in Sheffield found that the nails are sensitive to changes in the body's total supply of iron and that a shortage of iron in the nail seems to be a sign of iron deficiency anemia. The researchers also found that, among five women suffering from iron-deficiency anemia, all complained of brittle nails, but after supplementation with iron, the nails were no longer brittle. Low iron in nails apparently meant low iron in the body, and brittleness was the clue.
'All the patients complained of brittle nails', the researchers noted. 'This improved with treatment and, in parallel with clinical and a hematological [blood] improvement and well-being, there was a steady increase in nail iron content' (Journal of Clinical Pathology).
Impaired circulation can also cause brittle nails, according to Norman Levine, a dermatologist at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. In a roundup of several kinds of nail problems, Dr. Levine noted that brittle, thin, ridged nails that are flattened can be a sign of Raynaud's phenomenon, which is characterized by poor circulation in the fingers and toes brought on by exposure to cold or by emotional upset. Dr. Levine also found that hypochromic (lack of color) anemia, which is usually the result of an iron deficiency, can cause 'spoon nails' which are flattened or spoon-shaped and thin. But the nail returns to normal if the underlying anemia is treated.
'A complete physical examination should always include inspection of the fingernails and toenails' because of their clues to other disorders, wrote Dr. Levine in Modern Medicine (15 August—15 September 1979). As the farthest tissues supplied by the circulatory system, the nails would logically show the first sign of trouble.
Another common cause of brittle nails is overexposure to solvents, detergents, nail polish and nail polish remover. Kidney problems and fungal diseases of the nails have also been mentioned as causes of brittleness. There is still apparently no consensus on whether ingesting unflavoured gelatine will make nails less brittle. Nails, like the skin and hair, are made mainly of a tough protein called keratin. Gelatin also contains protein, but not the same kind. One researcher, we talked to said gelatine doesn't help; another said it might help; and a third said his wife uses it, but she can't tell whether it works or not.
Fungal infectionsSome people, especially those who work around the house, are plagued by fungal infections around and under the nails. These infections can be hard to treat, and they may keep coming back. Any disruption of the skin around the nail — e.g. a hangnail or skin that's been broken by too much contact with solvents or detergents — can open the door to a whole family of yeast-like fungi. Use of tetracycline antibiotics such as Terramycin or Aureomycin can sometimes cause or aggravate one of these infections.
One method for dealing with these infections comes from the Soviet Union. Dr. Eugene M. Farber of Stanford University, using an idea he says he borrowed from the Soviets, placed plasters of urea, a nitrogen-rich product of protein metabolism, on the toenails of 35 people suffering from painful or unsightly fungal infections. In seven to ten days, the urea loosened the nail from its bed, so that both the nail and the dressing could be removed together. Without the nail, the underlying infection could be treated more easily.
Dr. Farber says the urea treatment is a cheap, safe and practically painless alternative to surgical removal of the nail. Its only drawback is that the dressings must be kept on the toes for a week or more (Cutis).
Zinc and White SpotsWhite spots or bands on the nail or on the nail bed (the soft tissue under the nail from which the nail grows up and out) are another common problems. Zinc deficiency has been implicated as the cause of these white markings.
Carl C. Pfeiffer of the Brain Bio Center in New Jersey proposes several links between zinc and white spots. In the 1950s, Dr. Pfeiffer says, the white markings were first associated with low blood levels of albumin, a protein to which 70 percent of the zinc in the blood is attached. Kidney or liver disease can cause albumin to be excreted through urine, and when it is flushed out, Dr. Pfeiffer says, it can take zinc with it. This kind of zinc loss, as well as a deficiency of zinc in the diet, can cause the white marks.
Interestingly, Dr. Pfeiffer also connected the white spots with a temporary zinc deficiency that a woman may experience a week before her period or that might result from fasting. He believes that the population, in general, consumers less zinc that it should — an average 11 mg per day, compared with the US Recommended Dietary Allowance of 15 mg per day (Journal of the American Medical Association).
A doctor in Texas believes that the white markings 'occur much more often than reported after a great variety of acute stresses, in deficiency states and with toxic reactions. '
Yellow nailsIf your nails turn yellow, your body may be warning you — months or years in advance — that something is rotten in the state of your lymph system (which drains excess fluid from your tissues), and possibly your respiratory system. Yellow nails may also mean a shortage of vitamin E.
In one case history, a 65-year old woman suffered from thick, yellow nails, chronic bronchitis, and lymphedema, a swelling caused by blockages in the lymph system. Her nails had been yellow and had not grown in the previous 11 months. She had had occasional numbness in her fingertips for 30 years, leg cramps for ten years, and bronchitis for eight months. All of these problems were relieved by vitamin E.
Her doctor, Samuel Ayres Jr., of Los Angeles, wrote in the Archives of Dermatology 'The abnormal appearance of the nails was probably dependent on the slow rate of growth, which in turn was probably due to the impaired lymph drainage.' He felt that vitamin E would help relieve her circulatory problems, and he prescribed 800 IU daily. In about six months, her leg cramps improved, and her nails were growing out normally. After two years, with a maintenance dose of 400 IU per day, she reported that all of her original symptoms had gone or were greatly improved.
There are other, rarer, connections between the nails and disease. In a few cases, a darkening of the nail can mean a vitamin B12 deficiency. If the nail is white near the cuticle but dark near the tip, that may be what has been called 'a flag of chronic kidney disease'. Liver or kidney problems, as well as chronic anemia, may cause white nails.
Healthy nails, healthy bodyThe use of the nail as a diagnostic tool is really just beginning. Chemists and nutritionists are analyzing the chemical makeup of the nail and trying to interpret what it means. There's a good possibility that nail samples will eventually replace the hair sample as an indicator of an individual's trace mineral profile.
For the past few years, Carl Moore, a professor of chemistry at Loyola University in Chicago, has been collecting toenail clippings from all over the world — from Europeans, from South Africans, even from ten-year-old children in New Jersey. He dissolves the nails in nitric acid and tests each one for its copper, zinc, chromium, cadmium, calcium and lead content. This information goes into a computer, along with the age, sex, geographical location and medical history of every toenail donor. What Dr. Moore hopes to prove — and what he will only tentatively assert until all the evidence is in — is expressed in this comment he made to us: 'A healthy nail is usually found on a healthy body. If the organism has a problem, it's likely to show up on the nails. If there is something unusual about the nail, then there must be something causing it to be like that'.
The implication is that, if you can match the early stages of a disease with a certain mixture of metals in the nail, you might be able to detect the first symptoms of chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease, and diabetes, and to treat them — nutritionally — before they begin. You might also be able to detect the first sign of cadmium or lead poisoning among workers who handle those metals.
The advantage of nails, Dr. Moore explains, is that they're a compressed record of chemical trends that occur in the body over a period of several weeks. In contrast, urine or blood samples reveal only day-to-day or hour-to-hour changes. When a baby is born, for example, its fingernails are already 15 weeks old, making them a record of the child's ante-natal metabolism. Also, Dr. Moore uses toenails because of the World Health Organization, in its research, felt that toenails are less exposed to contamination than fingernails.
Along the path of his research, Dr. Moore found studies showing that women, for no known reason, have more gold in their nails than men do. He also found that, apparently because of better circulation, right-handed people will have more trace metals in their right hands. The reverse is true for lefties.
Another researcher, John R. K. Robson, a professor of nutrition at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, has been running tests similar to Dr. Moore's. He's been assaying hundreds of fingernails for their magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc and copper content, and he hopes to link these metals to health problems.
He began studying fingernails in 1969 when he discovered that fingernails are harder among persons suffering from protein malnutrition. He told us that a deficiency of protein prevents the calcium in nails from ordering itself in the right pattern.
Eugene Kanabrocki, a chemist at the US Customs Laboratory in Chicago, has also studied the trace-metal content of the nails. He became especially interested in chromium, zinc, and selenium — three trace metals believed to help protect the body from chronic diseases — after finding that his own nails contained much less of them than did the nails of his 16- and 12-year-old sons. In particular, his nails contained only about a third as much chromium as his younger sons. Some researchers heed their own findings by supplementing their diets, and Kanabrocki is one of these. He takes a brewer's yeast supplement daily, mainly for its chromium content.
How to Fix Fingernail Problems Naturally Reviewed by Healthy Kite on 9/06/2016 Rating: