Your skin health isn’t just skin-deep. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your skin is considered an outer reflection of your entire inner physical, mental and spiritual health.
This internal-external mirror reflects through the skin by way of symptoms such as hyperpigmentation, lines, loss of elasticity, wrinkles, marks (such as moles/freckles), acne and other skin disorders.
These symptoms most noticeably manifest on our facial skin and are considered symptoms of a root cause, which could stem from imbalances between yin and yang, Qi and blood, or even pathogenic factors such as cold, heat, dryness and dampness.
One of the root causes of acne, for example, can be “heat toxicity in the blood.” Other examples of root causes for issues such as hyperpigmentation can be “blood stasis” and wrinkles can be “Qi and yin deficiency.”
Fortunately, skin is constantly repairing and renewing itself. Your skin’s cellular turnover process repeats approximately every 28 days and can even slow to a 40-day turnover as we age. However, even with regular cell turnover, it is still important to understand our own skin and how to best take care of it. Because every person’s skin is different, TCM works well to diagnose the individual and their ailment instead of a broad, generalized approach to treatment.
Simply by working with your body’s natural healing process, you have the power to improve and rejuvenate your skin. TCM is a safe, effective and natural solution to rejuvenating your skin and working preventative healing into your regular routine. One way to expedite this rejuvenation process is by using different TCM modalities such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, cupping, facial Gua Sha and Qi Gong.
In acupuncture, fine needles are inserted throughout the body with the purpose to unblock Qi flow. By unblocking your Qi, your body can run smoothly; you feel balanced, nourished and healthy.
Acupuncture works to stimulate fresh blood flow and Qi, which is known as “energy life force,” to your skin while also releasing nitric oxide. This helps the body regulate pain, widens blood vessels and stimulates the release of the human growth hormone (HGH).
Cupping is great for lymphatic drainage, relaxing tight fascia and muscle, and boosts lung function (lung health also manifests on the skin). Cups are applied via fire or vacuum pumped to the skin. The negative suction from the cups creates a vacuum that allows for the fascia to be released from the muscle. What’s more, cupping also strengthens the immune system and unblocks Qi and blood to allow for nutrients to release at the dermis level.
Herbal remedies work on a molecular level to strengthen your Qi, treat and prevent assorted ailments and are highly effective to most dermatological issues. Certain plant and mineral combinations are given according to your specific ailment, constitution, lifestyle and diagnosis. Consult with your TCM practitioner to find out what kind of herbal remedies are best for you and your body.
Facial Gua Sha is great for Qi and blood circulation, soothing muscle tension and initiating emotional releases. The face holds all of our emotions and stress. By giving yourself a “massage” through facial Gua Sha, your face can release those emotions and become nourished through better blood and Qi circulation.
Working facial Gua Sha into your regular routine can also aid in getting rid of metabolic waste stuck in your tissues, allowing for better nourishment of your body. It also encourages collagen growth by activating the fibroblasts in your connective tissue, which can leave the skin looking firm and youthful.
This highly underrated modality uses and moves your energy within and throughout the body. Qi Gong is the art of harnessing and cultivating Qi. Through a series of structured movements and breathing techniques, you can rebuild, replenish and renew your life force energy. Qi is transformed into nourishment for the skin and body, allowing for a natural glow and radiance as well as a more youthful appearance.
These five TCM modalities not only work on the surface level of the epidermis and dermis but also on an energetic level, as each provides an efficient way for lymphatic drainage, better blood circulation, the releasing of neurotransmitters, emotional releases and nourishment of the fascia/muscular/connective tissues — not to mention rejuvenated skin while moving into the new year.
Giving your skin a boost will make a marked difference in your skin’s rejuvenation process and result, leaving you glowing — inside and out.
Debbie Kung, DAOM, LAc., is a Board-certified NCCAOM licensed Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Dr. Kung practices Traditional Chinese Medicine modalities such as acupuncture, herbal remedies, Gua Sha, cupping, auricular acupuncture, specializing in stress management, cosmetic facial rejuvenation, pain management, Lyme disease, fertility treatments/IVF support, Bell’s palsy, esoteric acupuncture, sports medicine acupuncture, and the battlefield/NADA protocol. She is also certified in First Aid/CPR, OSHA and clean needle technique. Dr. Kung sits on the advisory board to HALO Sport Drink and Qi Alchemy where she serves as Doctor of Chinese Medicine. She is also a contributor to MindBodyGreen and Austin Fit Magazine. Dr. Kung is currently practicing in both Austin, Texas, and New York City.