Professional Journals
How Does Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner Define Beauty?
Date: 05/10/2020

The first impression and image is always important when we are meeting someone new. To Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioners, a good image in terms of physical appearance often refers to healthy and thick hair, healthy skin complexion, smooth and firm skin, and also fresh breath. 

How do we achieve "good image"?

It is never easy for us to achieve and maintain "good image" because of various factors, including staying up late, smoking and consuming alcohol, UV-radiation, dust in air, lack of exercise, lack of nutrition, unbalanced diet and more. As the standard of living has been highly increased since the past two decades, people are always eating out and consuming foods that contain excessive amount of sugar, salt and oil. The lacking of grain and vegetables in our diet has increased the accumulation of fats in our body, the excessive protein and lacking of dietary diversity are also causing malnutrition in most of the people living in urban cities. Such eating habit is badly affecting our digestive system and causes multiple negative impacts to our health. Some of the most significant negative impacts include yellowish and pale skin, dry and dull skin, acne, bad breath, constipation, always emotional and more.  

How does TCM help in relieving health issues?

Firstly, TCM practitioner would need to find out the root cause of your health issues in order to eliminate the problems completely, acupuncture and massage are two of the main treatments that can help to ease the issues. Other than that, you can also use home remedies to relieve the above symptoms such as consuming American ginseng, Angelica and red dates, you may also consume collagen if you wish to enhance the elasticity of skin. 

What is collagen and where is it from?

Due to the high exposure to advertisements on media, most of us are already familiar with the benefits of collagen- its effectiveness in enhancing the firmness of skin, but what exactly collagen is? Collagen is an important substance in animal, it is the main structural protein in various connective tissues in body, can often be found in animals' skin and bones. Some of the sources of collagen are beef tendons, pig trotters, pig skin, chicken wings, chicken skin, fish skin and cartilage. 

As the fats content found in pig and beef collagen are so much higher as compared to fish collagen, most of the collagen products in the market are actually using fish collagen to avoid weight gaining issue. Collagen is the most abundant protein in human body, it accounts for more than 30% of the total protein in our body. The main functions of collagen include delay aging, reduce wrinkles, whiten skin, smoothen hair, strengthen nails and more. However, some people need to avoid collagen especially during pregnancy, because the collagen consumption may result in preterm birth and affect the growth and development of baby afterbirth.

Does plant contain collagen?

You may have heard advertisers stressing that snow fungus, peach gum and sea birds' nest are rich in collagen and they are beneficial to beautiful skin and help in skin whitening, but it is actually a false statement. In fact, plants do not contain collagen, although the texture of the above mentioned plant-based ingredients are very much similar to collagen, but they do not possess benefits that collagen offers. Therefore, there is no vegan-friendly collagen product in the market. 

Some of the Chinese medicine contain high content of collagen too, such as velvet antler, deer placenta, bird nest, donkey-hide gelatine, hasma, placenta hominis and more, but every of these medicine has its specific function, so they are not suitable to be consumed every day. Moreover, they are expensive, inconvenient to prepare, limited production and some are obtained in unethical ways, therefore, manufacturers rarely use these ingredients in collagen products. 

What are the TCM methods in achieving beautiful skin?

Acupuncture and dietary treatment are actually a great combination in improving skin complexion. Other than that, one has to avoid staying up late, avoid smoking, reduce alcohol intake, attend face massage session frequently, in order to achieve beautiful skin. Most importantly, the QI or CHI (vital energy) must be maintained at healthy level because it can be easily seen from your physical appearance when it is not well-maintained.
Other than beautiful skin, how do we maintain fresh breath? Also, what actually causes bad breath?  Bad breath refers to the unpleasant smell that comes from nose and throat, it can be highly affecting our daily life and also our emotions. Besides external causes such as bad breath after consuming garlic, onion, stinky tofu and etc., bad breath is actually the reflection and symptom of various health issues.

5 common factors of bad breath from the angle of TCM

1. Oral diseases: Tooth decay, periodontal disease, oral lesions, aphthous ulcers and etc., are the signs of poor oral health, they can stimulate the growth of bacteria and causes bad breath. To get rid of bad breath, the most effective way would be visiting a dentist and practise good oral hygiene including brushing your teeth correctly at least twice a day.

2. Heatiness: Stay up late, insufficient water consumption, imbalanced diet and heaty foods are the main causes of heatiness. Heatiness can trigger several symptoms such as night sweats, feverish sensation on chest, palms and soles, flushed cheeks, dry mouth and throat, sore throat, dizziness and tinnitus, acnes and insomnia (only for references, please take note that these may be other diseases' symptoms as well). If bad breath only occurs when you have the above symptoms, drink more water and maintain healthy lifestyle. You may also consume cooling and hydrating drinks to bring down the body heatiness.

3. Indigestion: Bad breath can happen when you always consume unhealthy foods, it can also cause stomach bloating and lack of appetite. There will be a thick coating on tongue that produces unpleasant smell when you have indigestion issue, the best way to get rid of bad breath will be detoxing in order to clear the indigestible toxins out from your body.

4. Nasal and sinus disorders: Our nose and mouth are both connected to each other, therefore, the unpleasant smell from your mouth might be coming from your nose. If this is the root cause of your bad breath, you may need to treat your nasal and sinus disorder immediately and also spitting your phlegm as often as possible to avoid unpleasant smell from the phlegm.

5. Liver-fire & heart-fire: Some people are always nervous and irritable, they can be easily stressed out and their emotions are always at unstable condition. Other than bad breath, they do also experience bitter taste in mouth, anxiety, insomnia and more. From the perspective of TCM, these symptoms are a sign a liver-fire and heart-fire, the best solution to get rid of bad breath is to relax your mind and calm your soul.

Do you have the concern of hair fall?

Our hair is the most neglected part of our body, and it is always too late for us to start paying attention to our hair fall issue when it is already leading us to serious baldness. Let us talk about hair follicles before moving into the topic of hair fall: we have a total of more than 5 million hair follicles all over our body, and 100 to 500 thousands from which are on the scalp. As every hair follicle has one hair, that literally means we have 100 to 500 thousands of hair on our scalp. Humans are losing averagely 30 to 100 hairs every day, if you lose more than that, you are already experiencing excessive hair shedding! The reasons behind excessive hair shedding can be a symptom of certain disease or health issue, and also external causes such as hair dye products and etc.   

How do we know if our hair loss is normal?

There are 3 ways to check whether your hair loss is at a normal condition: firstly, check whether you have hair thinning issue from time to time, because a normal hair loss will not cause hair thinning. Next, check your hair fall amount, pay attention to the amount of hair being pull out each day when you comb your hair. Last but not least, check the condition of the fall-off hair. The fallen hairs are usually very thin and fragile, it is the sign of nutrition deficiency.

How does TCM explain about hair loss?

Hair loss is not a disease, but a symptom. From the angle of TCM, hair loss issue can be linked to our kidneys and liver. Kidneys are where the Jing (essence) is stored, and liver is where the blood is stored, these two organs are always interrelated. When there are problems with kidneys or liver, the blood circulation in our body will be affected, hence, failed to deliver the nutrition to the upper part of our body, especially our scalp. When hair follicles are experiencing nutrition deficiency, it will then lead to hair fall and resulting in excessive hair shedding. Other than hair loss, the symptoms of kidneys and liver disorders also include body ache, leg weakness, anxiety, insomnia, flushed cheeks, night sweats, impotence and more.

Health condition can be observed from hair?

There is a saying in TCM goes "your blood health can be seen from your hair". Hair loss is a symptom of asthenia, especially when one is experiencing liver blood deficiency. Liver blood deficiency often happens to women who have just delivered or with irregular periods, people who went through extreme weight loss diet, suffer from endocrine disorder, emotionally unstable and more. When our hair roots are unable to obtain sufficient nutrients or when stable blood flow to hair scalp is not maintained, hair fall will then occur.

If these are the reasons why you are encountering hair loss issue, you may need to pay more attention to your liver and kidneys' health in order to ease the problem. To improve the condition, TCM techniques can also be applied such as acupuncture and bloodletting therapy, other than using internal treatments. If your hair loss condition is mild, you may consume health supplement that helps in hair growth and protect hair follicles, but if your hair loss problem is at a more serious condition, you would need to consult doctors immediately. Do also avoid applying the non-proven home remedies found online such as using raw ginger to rub against your scalp or using white vinegar to wash your hair.

To achieve a positive image with presentable physical appearance, your health needs to be well-taken care of. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, practise healthy diet, exercise more often, maintain good mental health, and consume health supplement when needed, are some of the keys to construct a healthier body from the inside out!

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