Dry skin can be a big bummer. But acupuncture and acupressure can help. They are ancient Chinese healing techniques acknowledged for their effectiveness by Western medicine as ways to ameliorate dozens of conditions from hiccups and constipation to allergies, insomnia, fatigue, and musculoskeletal pain.
When it comes to aging, though, Western and Eastern medicine don’t always see eye to eye. While Western medicine views signs of aging — wrinkles; dull, dry, or lusterless complexion — as the inevitable side effects of aging, excess sun exposure, and possibly our genes, Chinese medicine (CM) looks at it in terms of an imbalance in your Qi, meridians, and organs. In other words, something that can be controlled and remedied.
In CM, balance or harmony is maintained by Qi, an energy that flows through your body via specific pathways called meridians, in and around body systems (a.k.a. organs). Unlike the Western anatomical organs, these organs are powerhouse networks that keep your body healthy, vibrant, and strong.
When correctly stimulated by a needle, instrument, or even fingers, acupuncture points (conveniently numbered along the meridians) can adjust the flow of Qi in the meridians and organ systems to address symptoms like wrinkles; sagging cheek muscles; and dry, rough skin.
As we approach the winter months, dry skin becomes an increasingly common concern. Dry, papery skin is a symptom of an imbalance in the body, specifically a weakness in the L/LI and K/BL systems. When the lungs or large intestines are weak, they can’t send enough moisture to the skin to keep it properly hydrated.
The K/BL system is like the building blocks of your body. The kidneys store the Qi of your body and support the growth and development of all of the meridians and organs. The aging process is governed by the health and vitality of this paired system.
In order to treat your L/LI, K/BL and hydrate dry skin, try this acupressure regimen. It will improve moisture retention and nourish your organs, using an innovative approach that combines a Western knowledge of anatomy with CM.
With the pad of your finger, massage each of the following points for 10 seconds using medium pressure. Repeat three times on each side of your body throughout the day.
1. The inside of the foot, directly below the ankle bone.
2. The back of the hand between the thumb and index finger.
3. The back of the elbow at the end of the crease.
4. The side of the nose.
5. The neck at the corner of the jawline.
6. Directly below the center of the eyes in line with the nostrils (cheek).
7. In the depression directly in front of the center of the ear.
8. On the hairline, 2 inches out from the center.
Finish by connecting the points from the face in a continuous sweeping stroke starting at the neck and moving up the face to the forehead.
Illustrations by Chloe Bulpin, mbg creative
This article first appeared in mindbodygreen.com and is written by Shellie Goldstein. Shellie is a licensed acupuncturist and educator with a Masters Degree in Biology and Nutrition.
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