In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), health is perceived as a holistic concept that encompasses not only the physical aspects of our bodies but also the emotional and spiritual dimensions.
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have long held the belief that there is a deep connection between our organ systems and the appearance of our face.
This profound link sheds light on how our internal well-being and emotions can be reflected in our facial features.
The skin: Reflecting the lungs and large intestines
In TCM, the skin serves as a mirror that reflects the state of your internal organs and emotional well-being. Specifically, the condition of your skin is closely tied to the health of your lungs and large intestines. The lungs, responsible for respiration and skin moisture regulation, can manifest imbalances through dry and irritated skin. According to TCM, grief is associated with the lungs, and emotional stress can compromise lung function, leading to shallow breathing, which in turn affects the vitality of your skin.
Muscles: Reflecting the spleen and stomach
Facial muscles are intricately linked to the spleen and stomach in TCM. These organs are responsible for digestion and nutrient absorption. When the spleen and stomach are not functioning optimally due to poor diet or emotional stress, it can lead to facial muscle tension. This tension results in facial expressions that may appear strained or tired. Excessive worrying and overthinking can disrupt the digestive process and contribute to muscle tension in the face.
Collagen: Tied to the liver and gallbladder
Collagen, the structural protein that provides firmness and elasticity to the skin, is closely related to the liver and gallbladder in TCM. The liver plays a central role in detoxification and maintaining a smooth flow of Qi (vital energy), while the gallbladder assists in the digestion of fats. Emotional stress can impair liver function, especially emotions like anger and resentment, potentially leading to skin issues such as acne, dark circles under the eyes, and premature aging. A healthy liver, on the other hand, promotes collagen production, resulting in radiant and youthful skin.
Blood vessels: Reflecting the heart and small intestines
The health of blood vessels on the face is intricately connected to the heart and small intestines in TCM. The heart governs blood circulation and emotional well-being, while the small intestines absorb nutrients and eliminate waste. Emotional stress can lead to poor circulation and a sense of vulnerability, causing facial redness, broken capillaries, and a lackluster complexion. Additionally, emotional turmoil can disrupt the balance of the small intestines, potentially contributing to skin conditions such as rosacea and eczema. Nurturing feelings of joy can positively impact the heart and result in healthier facial expressions.
Bones: Reflecting the kidney and bladder
The bones in the face are associated with the kidney and bladder in TCM. The kidneys are considered the foundation of Yin and Yang energies in the body and play a crucial role in maintaining bone health. Prolonged fear or sudden fright is related to the kidneys in TCM. Emotional stress, particularly fear, can weaken the kidneys, potentially leading to facial bone density loss. This loss may manifest as sagging or hollow cheeks. Kidney imbalances can also cause dark under-eye circles, commonly observed in individuals experiencing chronic stress or exhaustion.
Traditional Chinese medicine regards the face as a remarkable indicator of an individual’s health and well-being. Insights reveal the intricate connections between facial structures and specific organs in the body. Understanding this connection underscores the importance of holistic health and well-being, emphasizing that emotional stress can profoundly affect both how we feel and how we look.
Jinguan Yang is a psychiatrist.