A nutritious diet, and eliminating bad habits, can promote a glowing complexion, a lack of wrinkles and a healthy spine.
The following information has been gathered and compiled through personal experience while traveling, teaching T’ai Chi, Qi Gong, Chinese Herbal medicine, martial arts and other health related subjects. The article also contains feedback from students and anecdotal information from readers of my columns. The following are my opinions and deductions from those sources..
Cigarettes deplete collagen. Collagen keeps skin elastic and is a major component in spinal discs.
Vitamins E and A contribute to general overall health and healthy skin. Carrots contain large amounts of vitamin A. Bugs Bunny is probably 75 years old. Is there a connection between carrots and his lack of wrinkles?
Folk remedies for skin problems:
Take fresh cucumbers wash, dry and cut into pieces, put the pieces in a bottle filled with vodka and keep in a warm place for two weeks. (if you haven’t guessed (vodka) this, and the others in this paragraph, are Russian recipes). After two weeks the solution is strained, the cucumbers are discarded and the liquid is used as a lotion to soften the skin, eliminate pimples and shrink enlarged pores. A facial beauty mask is made from one raw egg yolk, one teaspoon of honey, a teaspoon of glycerin or olive oil. After ingredients are thoroughly mixed together it’s smeared over the face and left on for two hours, then removed with warm water. It is said to remove wrinkles and rejuvenate the skin. Milk, sour cream and fresh butter were also used and after leaving on for a few minutes were washed off with warm water and followed by cold water to close the pores, then the face was dried briskly with a coarse towel.
American folk remedies that were used for skin problems include: using the seeds of quince soaked in warm water as a soothing lotion for chapped and cracked skin. Simmer beeswax together with balm gilead buds and mix with lard (I believe olive oil would work as well). Use powdered bloodroot topically to kill fungus (it also kills the skin where applied). Mix barberry and soap and applied as a plaster to kill fungus. Apply garlic to the fungus affected area (I know people who have burned their skin using garlic this way). Make a strong decoction of dried or fresh elder leaves and apply to the affected area.
For impetigo American folk healers used the mashed leaves of plantain or golden seal root topically on the impetigo. The extract of grindelia robusta or grindelia squarrosa was used topically, as were fresh mashed leaves of impetigo bush. The last remedy is said to have come from the West Indies with slaves.
Herbalists recommend aloe vera for many skin problems. I’ve had good luck with aloe for sunburn and also when using slices applied directly to canker sores. A small piece of the inner part of prickly pear cactus, minus the outer skin and spines, also works well on burns, sunburn and canker sores. Avocado, calendula, chamomile, gotu kola (studies have shown it capable of regenerating skin cells and underlying tissue), witch hazel, carrot, purslane and walnut can all be applied topically for skin problems and to soften and soothe irritated skin.
If you live in the desert you have a whole list of locally available plants to choose from including prickly pear, prickly poppy, chaparral, Syrian rue, sagebrush, desert willow also known as Flor de Mimbres (I’ve used the flowers to relieve itchy skin when all else failed) and many others for all types of skin problems. I’ve also used, and know others who have, desert willow leaves and stems as a tea to treat and prevent candida albicans. I’ll be doing a series on candida in the future.
In Chinese food as medicine, the following remedies are found for skin problems. Sesame oil rubbed into the affected area to relive sunburn and dry, cracked skin. Liquefied carrot, applied topically to relieve dry, cracked skin and as a moisturizer. One remedy is boiling a small amount of marjoram in water and applying the liquid to the skin as a soothing wash and relief of itchy skin.
Acupressure points can make a dramatic difference. Do the following once a day for the first 30 days and then 2-3 times a week thereafter. Use enough pressure to feel the effects but not enough to damage the skin. Relax! Being healthy is supposed to be fun, not something that has to be rushed through and cause pain.
Directly above the centers of each eye, at the hairline, are contact points for increasing circulation to the upper face. These points are on the meridian line related to the gall bladder and liver in Oriental medicine. Rub the area in small inward circles. Directly below the first two, and midway between the hairline and eyebrows, is a another acupoint for increasing circulation to the upper face. These are the same spots on the forehead you subconsciously massage when you’re tired, have a migraine, insomnia or a problem to solve. This contact can help relax the entire body. Use small inward circles. Another is next to the nose, on the underside of the upper part of the bone that forms the eye socket. Small inward circles, with the thumbs, work best here. Most of us at some time have held this point to relieve eyestrain, a headache or to remedy sinus pressure.
An effective acupoint for treating crows-feet and increasing energy to the eyes is at the corners of the eyes. Use small outward circles taking care not to put pressure on the eyeball. Massage using small outward circles, without putting pressure on the eyeball, on the ridges of the cheekbone below the center of the eyes, this also relieves eye tension and eyestrain.
Inline with the center of the eye, directly out from the flare of the nostrils, in the depression on the inner edge of the cheekbones, is a point beneficial for treating sinus problems and increasing facial circulation and circulation to the upper front teeth. An acupoint for dizziness, fainting, nausea and for tightening the facial skin, is located between the bottom of the nose and the upper lip. The end of the middle finger works best, use small circles.
A contact point halfway between the lower lip and the chin helps relax the lower jaw and increase circulation of the lower face. Small circles with the end of the index or middle finger works best. Massage both sides of the face at the hinge of the jaw using firm pressure, small circles and the ends of multiple fingers to relax the jaw and promote circulation in the cheeks. If you massage these points faithfully you’ll begin to see wrinkles fade, skin tighten and glowing circulation increase in the entire face.
Cocoa is good for more than a cold night in front of a cozy fire. Cocoa butter is one of the primary ingredients in most skin conditioners. Cocoa butter melts at skin temperature, penetrates into the pores and moisturizes dry skin. Cocoa isn’t recommended for acne sufferers. Since heavy creams applied around the eyes before bed can contribute to puffy eyes the next morning, cocoa butter would probably be the best choice. Cucumber, as thin slices applied directly or as a blender made mask, have a long-standing reputation for preventing wrinkles. Almond oil, castor oil, avocado oil, olive oil and aloe vera have all been used for thousands of years for softening/soothing the skin. Grapes and pineapple skins contain AHA’s, an ingredient in OTC preparations that remove the outer layer of the skin. Blend and use as a facial mask, wash off after 10 to 15 minutes.