How is your skin feeling today?
If you struggle with your skin, then you know what a massive impact it can have on your life. Common skin complaints include redness, acne, break outs, blotches, eczema, psoriasis, itchy skin or bags under the eyes. Whilst these may be common complaints, they can be very uncomfortable to live with and can have a significant effect on your confidence and morale. They can even effect what you do – sometimes preventing you from exercising or going out, making life nothing short of miserable.
The chances are, if this is you, you may have tried endless skin treatments and creams, different diets and a range of medication. Some may have worked for a short time. Some may have had unexpected side effects. And some of the treatments you’ve tried may have actually made your skin worse. Meanwhile, at the end of the day, nothing seems to work long term, leaving you close to despair.
Acupuncture has been a major part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and those of you who have read my previous blogs will know it can assist with a number of issues. One of the things acupuncture is increasingly used for is as a treatment for skin complaints. And that begs two questions: how does it work and can it really help with your skin?
How acupuncture works
Treating the cause
Acupuncture works in a number of ways. Firstly, it works on the basis that to be in perfect health, our bodies need to be in perfect balance and flow. Understandably however, in the hustle and bustle of life, sometimes, things get out of balance. When they do, this is reflected by a symptom but not a symptom where you might expect. For example, if you have a problem with your kidneys, you might expect a corresponding pain in your kidney. You might not expect the issue to show itself on your face but that is often what happens.
Common examples of issues that may seem unrelated to your skin but often manifest as skin conditions include a hormonal imbalance, digestive disorders or a build-up of toxins in the body.
Unlike Western medicine, acupuncture is about treating the whole body and the cause rather than just the effect. So rather than just treat a skin condition, your acupuncturist is likely to ask you a lot of questions. It may be that those bags under your eyes are in fact related to an issue with your kidney.
How does Chinese Medicine know this?
As a result of many thousands of years of practice and study during which time the insertion of tiny needles has been used to address the underlying issue, to restore the body’s balance and equilibrium by freeing up the flow of blood and energy. In other words, you treat the cause and by doing that you treat the effect or the symptom.
The anti-inflammatory effect
Acupuncture has also long been considered a safe and effective anti-inflammatory treatment including for treatment of things like psoriasis and other complaints. That’s because acupuncture works by stimulating the body’s cytokines (the immune system’s proteins) to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines and increase anti-inflammatory cytokines.
The insertion of needles under the skin also stimulates sensory nerves in the skin and in the muscles, as well as stimulating the body to produce natural substances, such as collagen and pain-relieving endorphins. As many skin conditions involve inflammation and can be very sore and itchy, this alone can have a significant impact on levels of discomfort as well as helping reduce redness.
The impact of stress on all aspects of our health cannot be overestimated and our skin health is no exception. We’ve all been there. You have the week from hell, and you find yourself tired and stressed. You look in the mirror and somehow you look 10 years older! What’s worse is that stress is known to exacerbate many skin conditions such as acne and rosacea. So, you find yourself in a vicious circle, stressing about your skin.
In addition to all of the above benefits, a treatment or series of treatments of acupuncture can be a valuable opportunity to take time out and relax. Many patients report the calming and cathartic effect of acupuncture. A soothing moment when you step off the treadmill of life which can greatly enhance your sense of wellbeing.
A look at the bigger picture
When I work with a client, I always discuss the bigger picture with you. You may have tried dozens of treatments, but equally there could be small aspects of your lifestyle which are having an impact on your skin which you’re weren’t aware of or haven’t considered. Our skin health can be affected by our emotions, our environment, our diet, our age and our lifestyle. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have to make massive changes, sometimes a few tweaks to your normal routine is enough.
But we’re in lockdown again?
With the country going back into lockdown, it’s never been more important or harder to take care of yourself. All sorts of things that are especially important to our wellbeing have been put on hold. But don’t despair – I’m still able to offer treatments. So, please give me a call so we can discuss your options and put a plan together.
I hope this might be one small thing I can do to help you get through the next month of lockdown. I am also offering gift vouchers which make great presents for someone who might be struggling.