Brittle Nails Causes and Remedies
Nail problems often result from nutritional deficiencies, particularly a shortage of fatty acids. Cis-linoleic acid, obtained from cold-pressed vegetable oils and converted into gamma-linoleic acid, may be in short supply, or the body may simply not be manufacturing GLA efficiently. Weak nails may also be due to a shortage of calcium, zinc, silicon and other nutrients.
- Finger (and perhaps toe) nails repeatedly flake and split
- Hangnails appear
- False fingernails fail to disguise the nails' weakness
- Fingernails break of flake without provocation
Recommendations include a whole food diet and exercise. Massaging the arms, hands and fingertips is advised to improve and maintain blood flow, and remove toxins and supply oxygen and nutrients. The condition of the nails often deteriorates when a person is affected by illness, stress or poor diet. Yoga and relaxation could prove beneficial. Hydrotherapy will be recommended for hygiene and for delivering remedies to the nails and the hands.
Vitamins and Minerals
Follow a whole food diet with plenty of vegetables and fruit rich in antioxidants. Calcium-rich foods such as low-fat milk and its products, and soy substitutes, are also recommended. Drink plenty of water to remove toxins and maintain a good state of hydration. Eat the bony bits in tinned salmon and sardines, which contain bone- and nail-strengthening nutrients in suitable proportions.
Specific supplements include zinc, beta-carotene, B-complex vitamins, vitamins C and E, and selenium. Take fish liver oil capsules, evening primrose oil, and silica.
Oil of evening primrose is usually recommended as herbal remedy. Vegetal silica is also useful in strengthening weak or brittle nails. Calendula is also a good herb to counteract nail brittleness: rub a little calendula cream around and onto the nails twice a day, in the morning and at night, or alternatively soak the nails in a tea made using the fresh or dried herb.
Add 2-3 drops of wheat germ or pure vitamin E oil to 1 teaspoon (5 ml) soya oil, and 2 drops of essence of galbanum, frankincense or myrrh. Smooth gently onto and around the edges of nails about once a week in order to strengthen brittle or flaking nails.
Take remedies 4 times daily for up to 3 weeks: Silica 6c for deformed nails with white spotting; Antimonium 6c for brittle nails with horny thickening; Thuja 6c for brittle nails with red and swollen skin at the base of the nail; and Graphites 6c for nails that are thickened, deformed, brittle or crumbly, inflamed and painful with blackening.
In a consultation with a doctor, advice may be given to the patient about essential fatty acids that could be included in the diet, and vitamin/mineral, calcium and/or zinc supplements may also be prescribed to help deal with this condition.
- Eat healthily and take specified supplements.
- Avoid unnecessary stress (which can affect the conversion of dietary fatty acids).
- Take evening primrose oil and other dietary supplements.
- Do not use harsh nail cosmetics.
- If home remedies fail, seek a doctor's opinion - nail disorders may be an indication of a more serious medical condition.