What affects the skin according to TCM?
TCM practitioners believe that the skin’s appearance is affected by a combination of blood, qi (vital energy) and moisture. The spleen and lungs need to be nourished in order to take care of the skin. Apart from playing a vital role in digestion, the spleen is in charge of transporting fluids (which moisturize the body) to the lungs. The lungs then disperse the fluids, as well as blood and qi, throughout the body.
Radiant, great looking skin is evidence of a robust spleen and lungs, as well as overall good health. Internal imbalances — such as deficient blood or qi, dampness arising from excess moisture, or imbalances in the body’s yin and yang — can disrupt the proper functioning of these organs, leading to skin disorders such as dryness, acne, blemishes, dullness, and redness. In addition, skin conditions like eczema can indicate weakness in the lungs.
Dietary suggestions for youthful skin
Nourish your body’s yin.
Yin foods are cooling and hydrating. Eating more yin foods will make sure your skin is properly moisturized, whereas too much yang (heating) energy in the body can cause dryness and inflammation, leading to skin problems such as flakiness, dullness and acne. To incorporate more yin in your diet, try to eat foods such as lily bulbs, almonds, cucumbers, lotus seeds, mung beans, lotus root, watermelon, honey, mushrooms, radish and goji berries.
Key beautifying recipes:
Black fungus and jujube seed soup with lean pork: Black fungus helps moisturize the body and expel toxins from your gut. Jujube seed nourishes qi and blood, while strengthening the spleen and stomach. Adding some lean pork to this recipe will help bring elasticity to your skin. To make the soup, soak some dried black fungus in warm water for 20 minutes, then chop them into slivers when they become soft. Simmer the fungus with jujube seeds and thinly sliced pork for two hours.
Sesame, walnut and peanut soybean milk: Sesame is said to benefit the kidney and liver, and to nourish the body’s blood and yin. Walnuts help warm the lungs, while peanuts are said to aid the spleen and stomach and to enhance qi flow. Simply blend sesame seeds, walnuts and peanuts with soy milk to make this drink, adding some sugar to taste. This drink is jam packed with protein and makes a great addition to your breakfast.
Try acupressure: Massaging a spot on the face called the yangbai point, which is associated with the complexion, can help to improve color, diminish blemishes and enhance the circulation of blood in your face. The yangbai point is located a thumb’s width above the center of your eyebrow. Use your forefingers to gently press and massage this point 100 to 200 times daily.
Make a DIY face mask with almonds and egg whites: Chinese people have long revered almonds as the key to beautiful skin. Yang Guifei, a famously beautiful Tang dynasty imperial consort, was known to use a special beauty cream made from almonds to keep her skin looking youthful and smooth. Mix together almond powder, egg whites and water, stirring until the mixture takes on the consistency of clay. Apply a light layer over your face and wait for 20 minutes before washing it off with warm water. Your face should appear brighter and smoother after using this mask.