One of the beauties of traditional Chinese medicine is that it is not limited to just treating illnesses. In ancient times, many Chinese herbal formulas were created to optimize well-being, enhance beauty, and promote longevity.
Traditional Chinese Medicine takes a holistic approach when it comes to lasting beauty and aging gracefully. There is usually a lot to consider when it comes to lasting beauty and vitality, as it is the first reflection of imbalances and stressors in our body.
In Chinese medicine, the body is viewed as a single unit with a complex web of interconnected parts rather than separate systems or organs. The body is considered healthy when all these interconnected parts are in balance. This kind of view means that skincare is not a separate regimen from full body care. In fact, any skin condition can be traced to an imbalance somewhere in the body and is usually treated both topically and internally, from the inside out.
Structural and nutritional skin care
In Chinese medicine, five main organs connect the whole body: the heart, lungs, liver, kidneys and spleen. The skin is considered an extension of the lungs instead of a separate organ. The lungs oversee the transport of fluids, food, and protective Qi (Wei Qi) throughout the body. When the lungs are blocked or the Wei Qi is too weak, it cannot properly nourish your skin, resulting in various skin conditions. Therefore, skin treatment and care begins with the lungs.
Known to be a very delicate organ, several environmental factors can cause an imbalance in the lungs. These include:
- Heat or fire: A poor diet or bad lifestyle habits can lead to the consumption of too many “hot” foods. For example, spicy or fried foods, as well as excessive consumption of alcohol, caffeine or smoking. All of this can affect the balance and harmony of your lungs. The resulting symptoms on the skin will be redness, dryness or flushing which can lead to acne, eczema or psoriasis. Additionally, the summer heat obtained from spending too much time in the sun can lead to several skin problems, including dryness, sunburn, and excessive sweating.
- Cold: On the opposite end of the spectrum, the cold can also cause several skin problems. However, it is not limited to cold weather only. It can also result from excessive consumption of raw or cold foods and drinks.
- Humidity: Humidity is another factor that can affect the health of your lungs. This is usually caused by poor digestion and a diet high or high in fatty foods. Moisture can lead to thickening of the skin, pus, pimples and bumps like cystic acne or warts.
- Drought: Again, this is an opposite factor that can also cause skin problems. Dry lungs can be caused by a dry environment, excessive heat, or a lack of fluid in the body. This usually causes dry or cracked skin.
- Wind: In Chinese medicine, too much wind can disrupt the structure of your skin allowing pathogens to enter. This will cause itching and rashes that spread all over the body, including allergic reactions like hives.
It is therefore imperative to seek the right balance in skin care.
That said, in traditional Chinese medicine, there are herbs that are universally beneficial for a great skincare routine. For example, chamomile tea is great for facial redness and acne, as well as tea tree, which is an effective anti-acne herb. Honeysuckle can be used to relieve rosacea while calendula oil soothes eczema.
Some nutritional options for treating skin problems internally will mostly depend on what is wrong with the skin. For example, dry skin will benefit from flax and sesame seeds, while moist skin will benefit from certain foods like aduki beans, mung beans, and barley. In case of skin redness, soothing foods like daikon radishes, pears, among others, will be very beneficial.
Additionally, some herbs and spices that promote healthy skin from within include turmeric, oregano, and chaga, among others. Turmeric is known to help reduce inflammation, oregano helps maintain a healthy microbial balance, while chaga is an antioxidant that helps protect the body against oxidative stress or pollution.
For clear skin, certain teas like tulsi, echinacea, olive leaf, and green tea go a long way.
As stated earlier, however, the practice is not limited to herbs and plants. Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners are holistic in their approach to skin health. They combine the use of Chinese herbs, dietary and lifestyle modifications, acupuncture, and other means to achieve healthy skin with lasting beauty.
Acupuncture in skin care
Since ancient times, traditional Chinese medicine has used herbs and acupuncture to treat several skin conditions, including eczema, acne, and psoriasis. Cosmetic acupuncture is a version of this treatment that focuses on treating the root causes of skin conditions. The acupuncturist determines where to focus the needles by assessing the causes of the skin problems and the bodily imbalance responsible. Therefore, two people may have the same acne complaint but not necessarily receive the exact treatment.
When treating skin conditions, Chinese medicine applies four segments of acupuncture:
- Chang Yang – skin wounds
- Gan Men Bing – rectal or anal disorders like hemorrhoids
- Pi Fu Ling – skin disorders like warts and rashes
- Za Bing – troubles like gangrene
Acupuncture also provides anti-aging benefits by naturally stimulating the body’s production of collagen. Facial acupuncture points create a micro injury to the skin and therefore the body reacts to this injury by producing collagen as a repair response. An added benefit of facial acupuncture is that most people will feel incredibly relaxed, which shows in their face. However, there are some caveats when it comes to acupuncture. It is not recommended for people with skin cancer or anyone who has had recent surgery, Botox or filler procedures, or pregnant women.
As stated earlier, to achieve the best results, acupuncture should not be isolated, but integrated into a holistic skin care regimen that includes other modalities for lasting beauty.
Stress Management, Spirituality, and Other Skincare Modalities
Every living creature on Earth needs solar energy to survive and evolve. Nature follows the sun. Solar energy is a good source of energy for healthy skin. The best time for solar energy is at sunrise, this is when light overcomes darkness, Yang energy takes over from Yin energy. However, sun exposure should be done in moderation, to prevent your skin from getting too burned.
Another modality for better skin care is Qigong. It is a complex art of mastering the flow of energy and balancing the Yin and Yang energies in the body. As stated earlier, the skin is an extension of the lungs. Qigong for better skin condition focuses on the energy flow of the respiratory and digestive system. When practicing Qigong, the mind is absolutely vital. You should be able to achieve total concentration and pay attention to all the sensations you feel. Qigong works on the basis of feelings and intuitions.
Aging occurs with a deficiency in the flow of energy in the body. It is synonymous with metamorphosis. Living cells will evolve, regenerate and eventually die. However, aging can be much slower when there is a holistic approach to good skin care. A combination of Chinese herbal medicines, proper diet, acupuncture and other stress management and spiritual techniques will go a long way in maintaining beauty and slowing down aging.
Epoch Health articles are provided for informational purposes and are not a substitute for personalized medical advice. Please consult a trusted professional for personal medical advice, diagnosis and treatment. Have a question? Email us at [email protected]