Heal your skin of acne, dark circles, fine lines and pigmentation and you could benefit overall health, say many holistic health experts, who are using the face as a road map to help clients regain inner health and outer beauty.
Common skin complaints, from acne to pigmentation, could reveal secrets to our internal health by simply looking in the mirror.
Modern health experts are turning to an ancient Chinese technique for diagnosing internal disturbances, giving them the ability to treat specific conditions according to where signs are showing up on particular areas of the face.
Combining dermatology and Chinese Medicine philosophy, Face Mapping is giving vital clues for those who are seeking more specific answers to their skincare woes.
“From seeing the face colour and condition of the face muscle, I can tell the blood circulation quality and how the digestive organs function—and how much nutrition the patient is able to absorb from their diets,” says Sydney-based Chinese Medicine practitioner Peter Chen, who commonly treats clients for skin conditions such as acne and eczema at his Logical Medicine clinic.
“If people have low kidney function problem, it will show as swelling around the eyes; if people suffer from liver or gallbladder issues, it may show as light yellow in the face and eyes; if the skin is very dry and without shine, it means the patient suffers very poor digestion and is unable to absorb enough nutrition; if the pupils of the eyes enlarge, it means pressure in the skull and they will suffer headache or migraine—this is caused by poor blood circulation and poor cardiovascular function.”
From seeing the face colour and condition of the face muscle, I can tell the blood circulation quality and how the digestive organs function—and how much nutrition the patient is able to absorb from their diets.
Fellow health practitioner Nalisha Patel knows well the discomfort of reoccurring acne, and says her own journey inspired her to help others, through her LookForever30 program, which uses Chinese face reading techniques to diagnose body imbalances and reduce fine lines and acne using nutrition, exercise and lifestyle changes.
“I personally suffered from bad acne, even though I was a wellness professional!” she says. “I had to dig deeper into my habits to figure out why I was still breaking out, even though I was doing all the ‘right’ things. Now my face is clear and glows.”
How to Heal Your Skin: Signs and Symptoms
Dark circles under eyes: Lack of sleep, and a poorly functioning endocrine system, is said to be the leading cause of under eye darkness. However, some health practitioners say intolerances with foods such as wheat and dairy can also contribute to this common condition. Sufferers may also experience back pain, neck, shoulder and spinal core tension.
Horizontal lines on the forehead: Chinese Medicine relates premature wrinkles on the forehead to digestive issues.
Cracks at mouth corners: A Vitamin B deficiency, and in particular B2, has been identified as a contributing factor to the skin splitting at the sides of the mouth.
Dry skin or inflammation on the chin: Digestive issues can relate to excessive dry skin and redness in this area.
Pigmentation: Dark spots on the skin can be signs of detoxification, as the body pushes out toxins through the skin, resulting in pigmentation.
Dry lips: Slathering with lip balm won’t combat the condition that is said to be caused by lack of internal hydration, iron or B vitamin deficiency.
The Purpose of Pimples
Dr Chen says those who suffer from acne usually have weak immune systems, as well as poor liver and gallbladder function.
“(The body) is unable to break down the oil well, so there is more oil in the skin that can block the sweat glands,” he explains. “The low immune system is then unable to kill the bacteria, so the bacteria will be able to stay in the little sweat glands and cause the acne.”
Some possible causes of acne on particular areas of the face could relate to the following:
Forehead: Liver and stomach congestion are often considered to be culprits, and can also be triggered by stress. Energy healers may also attribute pimples on the face to unresolved anger.
Above the eyebrows: A breakout here can signify it’s time to boost the immune system, and can often appear at the onset of cold or flu.
Between the eyebrows: Diets fuelled by dairy, sugar and alcohol are said to be causes, as are food allergies.
Cheeks: Smokers are more likely to suffer from breakouts here, as are those who live in cities with chronic pollution.
Chin: Hormones are often to blame for breakouts at the chin sides and can be particularly troublesome during ovulation.
Jaw line: A diet primarily of processed foods, including dairy, sugar, fried foods and soft drinks can result in adult acne, particularly along the jaw line.
The Gut-Face Connection
Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “All disease begins in the gut”, and as such, it’s also true that bad skin begins in the gut. But, it is possible to overcome common issues and heal your skin.
Meals of fast food that boast empty calories and unhealthy fats can cause the colon to clog and become home to a putrefying concoction of processed foods and meats.
With nowhere else to go, toxins are pushed out through the weakened colon wall into the bloodstream, and out through the body’s largest organ and hard-working elimination system, the skin.
“General skin health relates back to the functioning of the lungs, colon, kidneys and liver,” explains holistic skin a beauty therapist, Lydia Thomas, who treats clients from her Port Melbourne clinic, Apple Blossom Health and Beauty. “If all are in optimal health through a nutritious diet, regular exercise and emotional equilibrium, the skin will glow from the inside out.”
“General skin health relates back to the functioning of the lungs, colon, kidneys and liver.”
“Gut always plays a role,” she adds. “Stress-induced alterations to microbial flora such as anxiety, worry and depression could increase the likelihood of intestinal perme ability, which in turn sets the stage for systemic and local skin inflammation—so when treating the skin, you need to balance the gut flora by introducing probiotic strains such as bacillus acidophilus.”
Colon Cleansing Tips to Heal Your Skin
• Upon rising each morning, drink a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice in warm water. Lemons work as a natural detergent, while also being anti-bacterial, anti-viral and immune boosting.
• Fast on pure spring or distilled water one day per week. According to leading health practitioner, Dr Joseph Mercola, distilled water should only be taken over short periods and only for the purpose of detoxification.
• Add cold pressed vegetable juices into your every day and undertake a three-day juice fast. Be sure to undertake any fasts under practitioner supervision if you have health issues.
• Naturopath Erica Lawrence recommends a herbal tea infusion of burdock, dandelion, echinacea, cleavers and nettle. “Echinacea is great for the immune system and also a primary lymphatic, which helps to detoxify your blood,” she says.
The Great Healer
Beyond healthy foods, herbal teas and detox, there is a powerful skin and body regenerator that is greatly overlooked, thanks to the Western world’s work hard, play late attitude. Sleep, say many health coaches, wellbeing practitioners and holistic doctors, is a potent healer and remedy for many conditions which ail the skin.
Naturopath Tristian Kelly, who runs a sleep, wellbeing and anti-ageing clinic, Counting Seashells (www.countingseashells.com.au) at Sydney’s Bondi Beach, says the importance of sleep “cannot be underestimated”.
“The body needs sleep to repair cells and recover from the day—this can be easily seen from the benefits of sleep, which include healthier, younger skin, improved heart function, improved weight control, reduced chance of diabetes and improved mental clarity,” he says.
Dr Chen agrees: “Sleeping is the best medicine for your body… If you are unable to have good quality sleep, then your health condition will go down and your immune system will get worse. When you have a good sleep, your injured body or wound will heal four times faster than if you are unable to sleep properly.”
Good Sleeping Tips
• Don’t watch television or use a computer at least one hour before bed. Studies have shown that this can slow the production of sleep hormone, melatonin, which promotes sleep.
• Turn off all artificial light in your bedroom, including the alarm clock. According to The National Sleep Foundation (US), exposure to light stimulates a nerve pathway from the eye to areas of the brain, which control hormones, body temperature and other essential sleep functions. One study also found that exposure to unnatural light cycles could lead to depression.
• Drink a small glass of sleep-inducing chamomile or valerian tea.
• Take a warm bath infused with lavender oil.
(If you’re a sleep-deprived mama or papa reading this, take heart. Sleep will come. The key is to not stress about not getting enough if you can help it, and try to take power naps whenever a moment presents itself).
Beauty Vitamins and Minerals to Heal Your Skin
Once the colon is cleansed, the body has greater ability to absorb essential skin-essential nutrients, including beautifying vitamins and minerals.
Compounding pharmacist and creator of skincare line DNA Elements, Danielle Glover, says a beautiful, glowing, youthful complexion happens when its fed the right combination of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants externally, but more importantly, internally.
“When looking after their skin, most people turn solely to mainstream topical creams, lotions, scrubs and toners, but forget that the health of our skin really is guided by what we eat,” she says. “Using the right combination of vitamins, minerals and anti-oxidants is essential for optimal skin health.”
According to Glover, the following nutrients are crucial for fostering healthy skin:
Vitamins C and E
Both have powerful anti-oxidant abilities that are highly effective at reducing free radical damage and the effects of prolonged sun exposure. Each may reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles. Foods boasting vitamins C and E include kale, broccoli, sunflower seeds and safflower oil.
Known to maintain and promote the repair of skin tissue. The best way to top up on this nutrient is via foods such as carrots, apricots and kale, as excess consumption can be harmful.
Silica is known for strengthening the body’s connective tissues, and is imperative for all over skin health. Foods rich in silica include leeks, green beans and strawberries.
Research has shown that selenium is responsible for tissue elasticity and pay help protect the skin from sun damage, resulting in fewer lines, wrinkles and age spots. Top up on brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, mushrooms and onions.
How Stress Affects the Skin
A hard day at work can quickly show up on the face, with stress contributing to the body’s inability to absorb nutrients. It also makes reaching for that end of day wine more tempting, leading to dehydration and disturbed sleep patterns.
Learning how to respond calmly to stressful situations requires mindfulness and this can take time to harness, making daily practices of meditation, yoga and walking highly beneficial.
Yet, there’s more going on in the body, and with the skin, when the stress response sets in says holistic nutritionist Samantha Ward of Melbourne’s Invora Health.
“Stress affects the skin in a number of ways: when we feel worried or stressed, our body releases a range of hormones, two of which are adrenaline and cortisol,” she says. “These two hormones were absolutely essential to our survival when stressed was caused by a tiger being two metres away from you… the adrenaline makes your heart beat faster, your lungs fill with more air, your muscles tense and you begin to sweat. You’re ready to run!”
She adds: “The issue arises when stress changed from a wild tiger to an inbox full of emails, a deadline, a disapproving boss or a visit from the in-laws. When our stress remains constant our body continues to produce these hormones and our level of cortisol rises causing a suppression of the immune system, reduced digestive function, blood sugar dis-regulation, obesity and of course, acne.”
Recipes for Relaxation
Being conscious of our response to stressful situations in an important first step in keeping calm, which can in turn heal your skin. However, there are regular beauty rituals that can keep you relaxed, while also feeding the face with beautifying vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and good fats.
Eco Beauty Mineralising Scrub
• Mix two parts aluminium-free baking soda to one part wild kelp powder. Wet the face and apply mixture gently in circular motions, working from the neck up to the forehead. Leave for two to three minutes before rinsing off. This also works wonders as an all over body scrub.
Apple Cider Toner
• Add one tablespoon of apple cider vinegar with two cups of water. Apply to the face and neck using an organic cotton pad.
Bentonite Clay Mask
• Combine enough clay and water to make a paste. Apply over the face and neck and leave to dry, before rinsing off with warm water and patting dry. Bentonite clay is a wonderful detoxifier and feeds the skin with minerals.
Natural Moisture Infusion
• Organic rose hip oil is an effective and light skin moisturiser, which is packed with skin-loving antioxidant Vitamin C. It also does double duty as a toxin-free make-up remover.
Looking Within to Heal the Skin was originally published in Australia’s leading holistic lifestyle magazine, WellBeing.