As stated by one of the greatest Chinese medical texts, “if something happens in the interior of the body, it must be reflected in the exterior of the body.” By paying attention to subtle changes in your appearance, you may be able to pinpoint which areas of the body need work and how to support them. You don’t need to be an expert to do this! You simply need to know what to look for.
When someone is experiencing jaundice (a sign of liver disease or bile duct obstruction), the whites of the eyes will alert you by turning yellow. I find it interesting that conventional medicine acknowledges this form of an exterior ‘sign’ of interior health, but has yet to embrace or even examine the many other areas that ancient medicine systems know reflect our inner terrain.
Because both the eyes and nails are connected to the liver, when the nails turn yellow, the same organ/meridian is asking for help! The condition may not be as dire as jaundice, but it is an important signal nonetheless that the liver needs support (whether due to an infection or an autoimmune disease). According to Ayurvedic Medicine, the lunula represents one’s “agni” or “fire” within the body. This is right in line with Traditional Chinese Medicine, which views these lunulas as a representation of one’s “Qi,” also known as energy, metabolism, etc. Essentially, Qi and agni are the exact same thing (energy/vigor/life force), which to me is beautiful because both systems discovered the same innate energy that drives us and our bodily functions.
When you look at it this way, it can be understood that strong, white moons at the base of each nail indicate strong “Qi” or “fire”: strong digestion, solid immunity, a sharp/energetic mind, a fiery metabolism and a healthy thyroid gland. The more energetic a person is, the whiter (and more present) their moons will be. The fewer moons a person has on their nails, the more like likely they are to feel tired and suffer from poor immunity.
The official term for these spots is leukonychia, derived from the Greek words leuko (“white”) and nychia (“nails”). White spots on the nails are very common, mainly due to the fact that more and more people are becoming deficient in minerals such as magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Many websites state that the association between white spots and zinc deficiency is merely a myth, however this 2015 study successfully treated total leukonychia (where the entire nail turns white) with zinc and amino acid supplementation. Why amino acids along with the zinc, you may ask? In my eyes it makes perfect sense: zinc deficiency leads to chronically low stomach acid. Low stomach acid means you can’t break down and extract the amino acids within the protein you eat. As your zinc levels are replenished, your HCL will increase and you can begin properly digesting protein once again.