Natural health: I'm unable to shake off sadness after breakup; my fingernails are brittle and break easily

Natural health: I'm unable to shake off sadness after breakup; my fingernails are brittle and break easily

My long-term partner and I broke up at the beginning of the year. It was all very amicable at the time but I’m finding it difficult to shake off the sadness. Is there a natural remedy I could take?

Sadness relating to a particular event or person can really take us by surprise, no matter how well we cope at the time. While there is nothing that can ‘fix’ the way that you feel, there are certainly some herbs that help to balance your emotions when they seem a little overwhelming or heavy.

Two of my favourite herbs when it comes to treating loss, grief, and melancholy are Rhodiola rosea (also known as Roseroot), pictured right, and Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha in Ayurvedic medicine). Withania or Ashwagandha is often referred to as Indian ginseng as it has a balancing and energising effect on the body and mind. It is often prescribed for stress, anxiety, and overwhelm.

Rhodiola also helps with mood and energy levels, by promoting the release of mood-modulating neurotransmitters norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. It is a wonderfully calming remedy, and is a good choice for anybody having trouble dealing with loss and sadness. These two adaptogenic herbs work even more effectively when taken together.

Never underestimate the therapeutic effects of the support of colleagues, friends, and family — many of us tend to struggle alone with our feelings so as not to burden those around us. The old saying “a problem shared is a problem halved” has been shown in a recent study to have scientific merit. Stress levels were measured before, during, and after individuals shared and discussed their feelings with fellow participants. The most significant drop in cortisol levels occurred when participants shared their feelings and experiences with others who were in a similar situation or shared a common emotional state.

My fingernails are brittle and break easily. Recently, the cuticles on some of the nails have become inflamed. What would you recommend?

When the nails are brittle and flaking, this often indicates a dietary deficiency or issues with the absorption of nutrients. Of course, nail health can also be affected by detergents and chemicals used at home or at work.

Incorporating green juices (celery, leafy greens such as kale and/or spinach, green apple, and cucumber) into your daily routine can boost your intake of vitamins and minerals. Sesame seeds, particularly in the form of tahini, are another wonderful source of bioavailable minerals for strong nails.

The B vitamins play a crucial role in nail strength and condition — specifically the water-soluble B-vitamin, biotin (also known as vitamin H). A number of studies have been done using a daily biotin dose of 2.5mg over a period of around five months, resulting in a 25% increase in nail thickness and a consequential reduction of splitting and flaking. Solgar makes a 1000ug (1mg) biotin supplement — 50 capsules cost €8.40. Take two to three tablets daily for six months for best results.

Methyl Sulphonyl Methane (MSM or Organic Sulphur) is naturally present in small amounts in many foods, and is a crucial component in the production of keratin and collagen. You will need to take around 3-5,000mg daily for best results. Use pure MSM crystals and take a teaspoon stirred into a glass of freshly-squeezed orange juice each morning, since MSM works synergistically with vitamin C (this will also help to mask the slightly bitter taste of the crystals).

Conditions of note where nail health is impacted, resulting in brittle, flaking, peeling, mottled, pitted, dull, or ridged nails include thyroid disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, anaemia, and menopausal changes. It is worth seeing your health practitioner to gather more information as to what might be the underlying cause(s) of your nail and cuticle problems.

A healthy and balanced system tends to be reflected in nails which appear pink in colour with a slight sheen to the surface, and the shape should be nicely rounded without any ridges or bumps.

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