For thousands of years, eastern medicine has been using the face and skin to distinguish what imbalances are happening in our internal organs and body. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda (an East-Indian health science) believe that the skin analysis (along with tongue and pulse) can display early warning signs of disease. Like relationship between acupuncture or marma points to the different organs, face mapping uses different areas on the face to address internal imbalances. This is so interesting, this way we can start to understand our skin, what is happening within and root cause of our blemishes!
The Forehead: Clogged Pores and Dry Acne
The forehead and upper face is known to reflect the health of the colon and the state of our circulation. Those of us with poor circulation often find clogged pores and dry blemishes isolated to our forehead are. Many of us think that these break-outs and congestion are from excess oil, but actually it is an accumulation of lymph and stagnation which causes these blocked pores. It isn’t oil-reduction we need, but to boost circulation and lymphatic drainage to clear up these deposits. Poor circulation also promotes this congestion according to eastern medicine. Comedones here are from excess air and relate strongly to dryness of the colon. The air element in Ayurveda (Vata) governs stress and anxiety which will tax the colon.
But not all forehead breakouts are stress related, TCM touts that in different areas of the forehead can also indicate different dysfunctions. Frown lines (that furrow between the brows) are liver related. This is why Botox injections can be so deeply harmful from an eastern perspective too! Acne here needs liver cleansing and pacifying excess yang. So, pile on the leafy greens and dandelion tea for some liver love!
Breakouts on the cheeks and nose
The middle part of the face is governed by heat and fire energy (Pitta), which leads to inflamed breakouts. Those of us with excess heat in our bodies will naturally flush and blush easily, and extreme cases, acquire Acne Rosacea. Because heat rises, high yang is often expressed in our faces through acne, rosacea and reactive skin. Traditional Chinese Medicine says that the heart relates to the small intestine, opens through tongue and is in charge of capillaries. This means that acne and dilated vessels here reveal a taxed heart and, in turn, small intestine.
But the heart does not simply pump blood, according to TCM, it is also part of the mind. Thoughts, emotions and feelings come form the heart, which is why facial expressions and the state of our minds can be seen in the face. Repressed anger and a weighted heart can be seen in the form of angry acne or redness. It is important for those with high heat to stay away from alcoholic beverages. Alcohol is very heating, and high alcohol-intake not only results in permanent redness and vascular damage on the nose but also acne in this area.
The area above the lips (moustache area), relates to our reproductive organs. This is when you would explore imbalances here! Furthermore, the corners of the mouth are a place of heat, so pimples here can indicate internal heat too. In Ayurveda the lips display the healthiness of the stomach and intestines, in TCM it is the state of the stomach and spleen. To relieve acne in the mouth region, increasing cooling, hydrating fruits and vegetables along with drinking more fluids will help calm inflammation in our digestive system.
The Chin and Jaw Line Cysts
The lower part of the face is governed by the earth element (Kapha). Earth is responsible for growth and reproduction. Break outs on the chin and jaw line are often deeper and cystic. This hormone-related acne is the most difficult to clear up. Excess hair growth in this area is also due hormonal imbalance as many women with PCOS and women going through menopause see excess hair on their chins. Decreasing foods with high earth is extremely helpful. Heavy foods like dairy, heavy starches, and fats should be avoided. Stimulating earth with cardio exercise also will help clear up the chin and jaw line.
Clear skin depends so heavily on being healthy and vibrant. So next time you look in the mirror, look past the superficial and see yourself inside and out.