By Jingduan Yang | Guest Writer
One of the beauties of traditional Chinese medicine is that it is not limited to just the treatment of diseases alone. In ancient times, many Chinese herbal formulas were created to optimize wellbeing, enhance beauty, and promote longevity.
Traditional Chinese medicine takes a holistic approach when it comes to lasting beauty and aging gracefully. There are usually a lot to consider when it comes to lasting beauty and vitality as they are the first reflection of our body’s imbalances and stressors.
In Chinese medicine, the body is viewed as a single unit with a complex network of interconnected parts rather than as separate systems or organs. The body is considered healthy when all these interconnected parts are in balance. This kind of view means that skin care is not a separate regimen from total body care. In fact, any skin-related condition can be traced back to an imbalance somewhere in the body and is usually treated both topically and internally, from inside out.
Structural and Nutritional Care of the Skin
In Chinese Medicine, five major organs connect the entire 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 transportation of fluids, food, and the protective Qi (Wei Qi) throughout the body. When the lungs are blocked, or the Wei Qi is too weak, it cannot nourish your skin properly, thus resulting in various skin conditions. Therefore, treatment and care of the skin starts from the lungs.
Known to be a very delicate organ, there are several environmental factors that can cause imbalance in the lungs. These include:
- Heat or Fire: Poor diet or lifestyle habits can result in consuming too many foods that have “heat.” For instance, spicy or fried food, and also excessive intake of alcohol, caffeine, or smoking. All these can affect the balance and harmony in your lungs. The resulting symptoms on the skin will be redness, dryness, or hot flushes which may lead to acne, eczema, or psoriasis. Moreso, summer heat gotten from spending too much time in the sun can result in several skin problems including dryness, sunburn, and excess sweating.
- Cold: On the opposite end of the spectrum, coldness can cause several skin issues too. However, this isn’t limited to cold weather only. It can also result from excessive consumption of raw or cold foods and beverages.
- Dampness: Dampness is another factor that can affect your lung’s health. This is usually caused by poor digestion and a diet that is high or rich in fatty foods. Dampness may result in the thickening of the skin, pus, pimples, and lumps such as cystic acne or warts.
- Dryness: Once again, this is an opposing factor that can also cause skin issues. Dryness of the lungs can be caused by a dry environment, excessive heat, or the body not having enough fluids. This usually causes dry or cracked skin.
- Wind: In Chinese Medicine, too much wind can disrupt your skin structure by 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 that the right balance must be sought when caring for the skin.
All these said, in traditional Chinese medicine, there are some universally beneficial herbs for a great skin care routine. For instance, 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 to treat skin issues on an internal level will mostly depend on what is wrong with the skin. For example, dry skin will benefit from flax and sesame seeds, while damp skin will benefit from certain foods like aduki beans, mung beans, and barley. In the case of skin redness, soothing foods like daikon radishes, pears, amongst others, will be highly beneficial.
Furthermore, some herbs and spices that support healthy skin from the inside out include turmeric, oregano, and chaga, amongst 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 from oxidative stress or pollution.
For clear skin, certain teas like tulsi, echinacea, olive leaf, and green tea contribute greatly.
As previously stated, the practice isn’t limited to just herbs and plants, however. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners are holistic in their approach to skin health. They combine the use of Chinese herbs, dietary and lifestyle modifications, acupuncture, as well as other means to achieve a healthy skin with lasting beauty.
Acupuncture in Skin Care
Since ancient times, traditional Chinese medicine used herbs and acupuncture to treat several skin disorders, amongst which were 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 issues and the responsible body imbalance. Therefore, two people may present with same complaint of acne but may not necessarily receive exact treatment.
When treating skin conditions, Chinese medicine is applicable to four segments of acupuncture:
- Chang Yang–skin sores
- Gan Men Bing–rectal or anal disorders like hemorrhoids
- Pi Fu Ling–skin disorders like warts and eruptions
- Za Bing–disorders like gangrene
Acupuncture also offers anti-aging benefits by naturally stimulating the body’s production of collagen. Facial acupuncture points create a micro-injury to the skin and consequently the body responds to this injury by producing collagen as a repair response. An additional benefit of facial acupuncture is that most people will leave feeling incredibly relaxed, which shows on their face. However, there are some caveats when it comes to acupuncture. It is unadvisable for those with skin cancer or anyone who has had a recent surgery, Botox or fillers procedures, or pregnant women.
As previously stated, for the best results, acupuncture should not stand alone but be incorporated into a holistic skin care regimen that includes other modalities for lasting beauty.
Stress Management, Spirituality, and Other Modalities for Skin Care
Every living creature on Earth needs Sun energy to survive and evolve. Nature follows the Sun. Solar energy is a good source of energy for great skin health. The best time for solar energy is at sunrise, this is when the light overcomes darkness, the Yang energy takes over from Yin energy. However, exposure to the sun should be done in moderation, to avoid your skin getting over burnt.
Another modality for better skin care is the Qigong. This is a complex art of mastering the flow of energy and balancing out the Yin and Yang energies within the body. As previously stated, the skin is an extension of the lungs. Qigong for better skin condition focuses on the respiratory and digestive system flow of energy. When practicing Qigong, the mind is quite vital. You should be able to achieve full concentration and pay attention to all sensations you experience. Qigong works based on feelings and intuitions.
Aging happens with deficiency of energy flow in the body. It is synonymous with transformation. 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 medications, appropriate diet, acupuncture, and other stress management techniques and spirituality will go a long way to maintain beauty and slow down aging.
Collective Spark articles are for informational purposes and are not a substitute for individualized medical advice. Please consult a trusted professional for personal medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment. Have a question? Leave a comment below!
About the Author
Author, teacher and international expert on acupuncture and Chinese medicine, integrative medicine, and psychiatry. Dr. Yang is based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. You can find out more about Dr. Yang at his website www.YangInstitute.com