If you’re suffering from breakouts, the cause of your acne could be more than skin deep. In fact, according to Chinese medicine, the complexion may provide insight into a person’s internal health, with the different areas of the face corresponding to specific organs and functions of the body—a system referred to as face mapping.
“Many forms of diagnosis were born to help practitioners ascertain what was wrong with patients before the age of X-rays, MRIs and ultrasound technologies,” says Emmanuel Sargenti, licensed practitioner of Chinese medicine and owner of Integrated Acupuncture in Westlake Village and West Los Angeles, California. “Face mapping is one of those diagnostic correspondence systems.”
Emmanuel gave us a rundown of the principal facial zones and the areas of the body that they parallel in Chinese medicine, so you can gain some insight into what your troublesome skin may be trying to tell you.
What’s Happening: According to Emmanuel, acne on the forehead could be an indication of issues in the stomach and gallbladder. “The stomach and gallbladder channels traverse certain areas of the forehead, so gallbladder issues of fat intake or stress and dietary stomach issues can lead to problems in this area,” he explains.
What You Can Do: Reducing your consumption of fat—particularly of those that are unnatural and/or saturated—and exercising to decrease stress may help get breakouts in this area under control.
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What’s Happening: “In some practices,” says Emmanuel, “the nose is reflective of the spleen; but the tip of the nose can also be a means of diagnosis for alcohol toxicity, which would fall into the liver’s domain.”
What You Can Do: Want to cover both bases? Revamp your fluid intake by cutting back on alcohol (to support your liver) and replacing ice-cold beverages with warm or room-temperature ones (which are easier on your spleen). Also, research shows that a diet rich in omega-3s may improve the liver’s enzyme levels and reduce inflammation throughout the body, so supplementing with fish or krill oil can also be a step in the right direction of a clearer, healthier complexion.
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What’s Happening: “The cheeks are a reflection of the liver (left) and the lung (right),” says Emmanuel, exemplified by the fact that some people’s cheeks get flushed when they imbibe alcohol.
What You Can Do: You can boost both your liver and your lung function by avoiding toxins and improving the quality of air you breathe. Investing in an air purifier for your home and switching to natural, nontoxic household products will help ease the strain on both organs, and moving your workout outdoors will keep you in plenty of fresh air.
What’s Happening: “The jawline is the dominion of the stomach channel,” says Emmanuel, who always looks for dietary factors that may be contributing to a hormonal imbalance.
What You Can Do: “Sugar causes insulin resistance with accompanying testosterone excess, so limiting sugar can help correct the problem,” says Emmanuel. Trading simple carbohydrates (white flour, potatoes) for complex carbs (whole-wheat flour, yams) can also help regulate blood sugar, potentially leading to clearer, healthier skin.
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What’s Happening: The chin is linked to the kidneys in Chinese medicine—in more ways than one. “Chinese medicine practitioners will often look at the size and shape of the chin to ascertain the hereditary strength of the kidneys,” says Emmanuel.
What You Can Do: Hydration is crucial to proper kidney function, so increasing your intake of H20 and water-packed fruits and veggies could be key to clearing up your chin zone.
READERS—How do you address your acne concerns? Do you use any unconventional means to treat your blemishes? Share it with us in the comments section below.