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How to Strengthen Your Nails with Gelatin

Brittle fingernails that chip, split or break can be a real nuisance. Having the edge of the fingernail tear off, leaving the quick exposed, is painful. But how can you strengthen your nails? One reader reports her remedy.

Unflavored Gelatin to Strengthen Your Nails:

Q. I had weak fingernails that split easily for years. Then I started taking one package of Knox plain gelatin daily. I usually mix it into my oatmeal.

When I faithfully ingest an envelope of gelatin daily, I have extremely strong nails that never chip. If I stop, my nails begin to split again.

Within two or three weeks of resuming the gelatin, my nails are once again almost indestructible. This remedy also works for my husband.

Scientists Have Not Studied Gelatin for Nails Recently:

A. The best study we could find on gelatin was published many decades ago in the AMA Archives of Dermatology (Sept. 1957). The researchers reported that,

“Forty-three of fifty patients with brittle nails who ingested gelatin daily for three months showed improvement in their nail structure.”

There had been a few studies published between 1950 and 1957, and a few studies were published after it, until the early 1970s. After that time, doctors appear to have decided that it was not worth studying. That’s why your own personal study is helpful; while it may not work for everyone else, you have discovered how to strengthen your nails.

Other Remedies for Brittle Nails:

Other readers have found that it can help to avoid nail polish, so that no nail polish remover is needed. This strong solvent can weaken the nails if they are fragile to start with (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, March, 2012). Frequent exposure to water, detergent and cleaning compounds can weaken nails, so protecting the hands with waterproof gloves worn with cotton glove liners makes sense if you are trying to strengthen your nails (Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, July, 2004). Moisturizing with almond or coconut oil may be helpful.

Hormones can also affect nail strength. Pregnant women may develop brittle nails (International Journal of Dermatology, online Apr. 20, 2016). In addition, nails that break or split may be a symptom of inadequate thyroid hormone. If fingernails don’t respond to common-sense care, it would be sensible to ask to have your thyroid function treated.

Gelatin Doesn’t Help Nail Fungus:

People with nail fungus do not benefit from gelatin. For them, our Guide to Hair and Nail Care offers many home remedies, including soaks of Listerine, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or pau d’arco tea.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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