Traditional Chinese Medicine and Dry or Winter Skin
By Steve Goodman
Do you know what the largest organ in the body is? It is not your heart, your liver, or even the lungs - it's your skin. Traditional Chinese Medicine understands that the approach to healthy skin in the winter, or any time of the year for that matter - starts from the inside out.
Skin care has become a multi-billion dollar industry in the West, yet most of these products contain drugs or harsh chemicals that often do little to improve the root cause of a skin condition, and in some circumstances may actually exacerbate the problem. Traditional Chinese Medicine on the other hand uses the same natural remedies and techniques that have worked for thousands of years. In fact "dermatology" is an actual specialty of practitioners of TCM. Rather than simply applying a treatment to the skin, the TCM approach is to address the internal problem, allowing the skin on the outside to then heal itself.
TCM sees the body as system of interrelated parts. In TCM all disorders, including dry or winter skin, which on the surface my seem to be caused by external forces - actually have their root causes in internal imbalances between Qi, blood flow, yin, yang, and blockages of different energy pathways within the body. In conditions such as dry or Winter Skin, TCM recognizes that there are external environmental pathological forces at work, but these environmental factors invade the body and influence the internal imbalances.
To Treat Dry Skin the TCM Practioner would seek to:
- Strengthen ones immune system, to decrease the body's sensitivity to the cold and other negative environmental hazards
- Balance the internal organ systems using herbal medicines and acupuncture to restore internal imbalances and remove blockages of Qi that are contributing to or causing the dry or itchy skin
- Release toxins from the skin, to eliminate the itchy, red skin
- Build up Yin level in the blood, to re-nourish and repair damaged skin
Wolfberry is an herb that has long been used in Chinese medicine for treatment of dry skin. To TCM practitioners, Wolfberries nourish and restore the liver, kidneys and blood. To western scientists this may not be surprising as the Wolfberry plant contains powerful anti-oxidants including: Vitamin C, linoleic acid, thiamine, beta-carotene, and riboflavin. Wolfsberry is better known as Goji Berry and is available in many health food stores in liquid and dried forms.
Other natural remedies for Dry or Winter Skin include:
- Add olive oil or oilatum to bath water to lock in moisture
- Also add some olive oil to your diet, this helps keep your skin looking soft and fresh, and olive oil contains lots of vitamins, nutrients and minerals to keep your skin looking healthy.
- Drink lots of water to keep your skin hydrated.