Heed Your Body’s Natural ‘Check Engine’ Signal
Every day, we get up and start our morning routine, which includes our unique order of operations to complete before running out the door. Are we taking the time in that routine for appropriate skin care? This can include a cleanser, toner, moisturizer, SPF and/or make-up application. The routine we have and the effects of those steps may matter more than we realize.
Are skin blemishes just problems with the surface of our skin or are they indicators of deeper issues? “You are what you eat.” We have all heard the saying but what does it mean and how does that relate to the health of our skin?
On a daily basis, our skin is affected by so many different outside elements: the environment with daily exposure to sun and toxins in the air, our skin care cleansing products, and the beauty cosmetics that we use to give our skin an even tone and texture. Sometimes no matter how well we try to take care of our skin, it seems to still end up breaking out, being dull and dehydrated, or aging and wrinkled. This is because the problem goes much deeper than just forgetting to wash our face a few nights and sleeping with our make-up on. So deep that it may have less to do with what we are putting “on” our skin as much as what we are putting “in” our mouth. Whether it is pigmentation, acne, rashes or rosacea, skin blemishes are significantly connected to our diet and how food is affecting our bodies and internal organs.
Although skin diseases are manifested on the skin, Chinese medicine believes that the disease origin is related to dysfunctions of certain internal organs. Just like heartburn means we ate too many chili cheese fries, a pimple is not just about hormones. In Chinese medicine, face mapping is used to find out the root of the problem. This is the ability to see the reflection of the body’s organs on each part of the face by observing complexion, including luster, dullness, discoloration, color and breakouts.
Face mapping has been a part of Chinese medicine for thousands of years, but has only started going mainstream in the U.S. in the past decade. It is now rapidly taking center stage at spas and clinics where modern practices often combine ancient medicine with clinical dermatological procedures. Face mapping connects a point on our face to an organ or body part so we know what to treat internally for clear external results.
Practitioners’ opinions differ in regards to recommendations on how to treat the issue being exhibited within each zone of the face. Some may offer simple advice or take more of the over-the-counter approach, while others not only suggest making food changes, but also mindset and potentially significant lifestyle changes.
David Wolfe, a health, eco, nutrition and natural beauty educator, presenter and author, takes a more natural, holistic approach for his guidelines on face mapping and what we should do to help resolve issues. Wolfe offers the following suggestions to lower the corresponding internal organs’ effects on the skin’s outside issues.
Forehead = Bladder and/or Small Intestine
Forehead issues with breakouts can be due to less than optimal food selections, partaking in alcohol to excess, a lack of sleep and stress. Probiotics, raw food, digestive enzymes, lots of water, adequate sleep and alcohol elimination can help, as can modalities such as yoga, to lessen the effects of stress.
Between the Eyebrows = Liver
In this area, issues with toxin removal from the food we eat or pollutants in our environment can tax the liver. In addition to including lots of fruits and vegetables, it is recommended to get outdoors for fresh air, take brisk walks, meditate, and try yoga or something similar. Keep an eye on food consumption; it may be a case of eating too much meat or dairy, or a sensitivity to a food.
Eyebrow Arch = Kidneys
Keep an eye on habits that may cause dehydration as they can have an effect on the kidneys. Besides the obvious one of not drinking enough water, coffee and other caffeinated drinks, sweetened beverages, alcohol and smoking can cause dehydration.
Try switching from table salt to sea salt as poor-quality salt can also affect hydration.
Nose = Heart
The nose area can be affected by poor circulation, high blood pressure and issues with air pollution (both inside and outdoors). Work on maintaining good cholesterol levels, fine-tune an exercise routine to help with circulation and find holistic ways to remove toxins. Food items and spices—such as garlic, reishi mushrooms and cayenne—can help with blood pressure control.
Upper Cheeks = Lungs
As with other body organs, smoking and pollution can affect the lungs, which is reflected in this area of the face as well. Asthma issues will also be evident here. Besides staying away from smoking and pollution, exercising and drinking green vegetable juices can help keep this reflective area of skin healthier. Try cucumber, lemon and celery mixed with some dark green leafy vegetables to help with lung health. Or incorporate the astragalus and cordyceps herbs into your routine after consulting with a naturopathic physician or herbalist.
Cheeks = Lungs and Kidneys
Again, smoking and poor diet can affect the cheek area, as can high amounts of stress; on the flip side, healthier food decisions, personalized de-stressing techniques and exercise can aid our lungs and kidneys and thereby reduce signs in this area of the face. Hydrate for kidney health with a sea salt and water combination; add in cucumber and melons for their taste and healthy benefits. And from the Chinese medicine perspective, herbs such as rehmannia and ho shou wu promote kidney health.
Mouth and Chin = Stomach
As we know all too well, our stomach area can be negatively affected by too much consumption of fat, sweets, alcohol and caffeine. By bringing in balanced eating habits that include fruit and fiber, we can mend our stomach health. Eating too much fat and sweet food can cause problems in this area. This is also true of caffeine and consumption. Try incorporating fibers such as slippery elm, chia, marshmallow and even aloe vera.
Jaw and Neck = Hormones
Our hormones are quite sensitive to what we ingest, to our surroundings and a slew of other influences. The wrong foods for our individual constitutions, lack of direct sunlight and connection to the Earth, animal products treated with hormones and even a lack of water can wreak havoc with our endocrine system. Simple steps can have profound effects: walk barefoot to feel more grounded, take some time to let sunlight shine down, eat more good saturated fats to increase good cholesterol levels, purchase hormone-free dairy and meat products, and avoid artificial lighting when possible.
Whichever method we decide to try, just know that there is a real connection to our skin and organs; it is important to not ignore the body’s natural “check engine” signs for our skin and health.
These tips are not meant to replace a doctor’s advice. For best results, consult a naturopathic doctor, licensed dietician, nutritionist, Chinese medicine practitioner or a dermatologist or esthetician with advanced training.
Colleen McGrath is an esthetician and the owner of Sanctuary Skin Spa & Wax Bar, based in Foxboro, MA. Connect at SanctuarySkinSpa.com.Edit ModuleShow Tags