SICK OF THOSE DARK UNDER EYE CIRCLES?
Eastern Medicine Can Help
Dark circles under the eyes are the bane of any woman’s (or man’s) existence. They make you face appear dark and sullen, and they definitely don’t add that vibrant or youthful glow that everyone seems to want.
While often a dead giveaway for lack of sleep, the reason why we experience dark circles under the eyes is often due to a combination of factors and how that’s viewed in the East and in the West can be quite different…
Basic Possible Causes of Dark Circles
First off, the skin around the eyes is very sensitive and thin – the most delicate on the whole body. When that area of skin is irritated, the blood vessels under the skin become more visible, causing that blueish zombie-esque tint.
Dark circles can also be a hereditary trait that is passed down from your parents. Honestly, the latter is what causes dark circles in most cases. If your mom or dad are prone to dark circles, chances are that you’ll experience them as well. Even if it is hereditary, it could point to a familial weakness according to Chinese Medicine.
Let’s say your parents are always bright-eyed, so it’s not hereditary. You might even be getting a full eight hours of sleep every night and still waking up with puffy eyes, so how do you fix the problem?
Eastern medicine (aka oriental medicine or TCM) loves exploring how the mind, body, and spirit intertwine. There’s often an answer (or at least an herbal remedy) for everything in oriental medicine.
What Dark Circles Mean in Traditional Chinese Medicine
Traditional Chinese medicine offers an interesting look at why dark circles under the eyes occur and how to fix them. Lifestyle choices are an obvious contributing factor, but what else? There’s got to be another reason, right? Right.
It’s All In the Kidneys
The layer of thin skin beneath the eyes is connected to our kidneys, so TCM contributes dark circles to kidney weakness. There is a weakness in the kidney system that likely resulted from exhaustion, overstrain, and overworking the body’s systems.
The kidney network is also linked to the body’s hormonal system, so disruption or stress in the kidneys will affect the melanin pigment, which is governed by hormones. Depleted kidneys will then cause excess pigment deposits around the eyes.
It might sound complex, but remember, everything is connected in TCM. If one system in the body is off-balance, it causes a chain reaction.
Kidney and Adrenal Connection
Kidneys are vital organs and- as such- are often overworked. Traditional Chinese medicine links dark circles with depleted qi (energy) in the kidneys. For example, the “qi” in the kidneys is at an all-time low, or perhaps damp-phlegm (phlegm-retaining fluid) is accumulating within the body.
You may have qi deficiency if you experience fatigue paired with adrenal exhaustion. If you’re thinking, “What the heck are adrenals?” get ready for some knowledge.
Adrenals are glands that sit on top of each kidney and pump out hormones. These hormones are what help the body perform essential tasks: control blood sugar, burn protein, burn fats, regulate blood pressure, and react to stress.
Let’s just say adrenals are really, really, really important. More important than your daily drive-thru coffee. So, keeping them functioning at their optimal level is critical.
Symptoms of qi deficiency and adrenal exhaustion may include:
- Excess thirst
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Hot flashes
- Lower back pain
Blood Stagnation Connection
Other than qi issues, traditional Chinese medicine also points to blood stagnation as a potential cause for dark circles under the eyes. It’s not as daunting as it may sound- promise.
Certain areas of the eye are linked to body organs, like we mentioned about the kidneys. The eyes themselves are connected with the liver, so problems with the liver can trigger blood stagnation.
That essentially means blood is not circulating as optimal as possible throughout the body. Cleansing the liver and eating foods that promote liver health can help clear those dark eyes.
Another TCM cause for dark circles under the eyes is sinus problems like sinusitis or rhinitis. When the mucus membranes in the sinus cavities inflame, mucus starts to build up and affects the face’s appearance.
(And we thought seasonal allergies were bad enough!)
Mucus buildup, combined with pressure on the nose and eyes, is the perfect recipe for poor blood circulation- aka dark circles. However, traditional Chinese herbal remedies can be cooked up to treat sinus inflammation.
Traditional Chinese Herbs for Dark Circles
Break out the herbs and tinctures because we’re about to make magic potions. Well, sort of. Traditional Chinese medicine dabbles in herbal remedies of all kinds. While you probably can’t cook up a tincture to make you rich, you can brew the perfect recipe to cure those dark circles under the eyes.
For dark circles caused by qi deficiency in the kidneys, a Liu Wei Di Huang Pian pill can be taken. This is an all-natural, herbal Chinese supplement that replenishes Yin and boosts qi in the kidneys. You can take the supplement, commonly available even in Chinese grocery stores or you could make your own concoction comprised of:
- Rehmannia root cured
- Asiatic dogwood fruit
- Tree peony bark
- Chinese yam rhizome
- Poria sclerotium
- Asian water plantain rhizome
Chamomile is also an amazing herb to use for fixing those dark circles. It is a natural anti-inflammatory and is filled with antioxidants. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners have been using Chamomile for centuries, but not the way Westerners think.
Instead of drinking your Chamomile brew, take the Chamomile tea bags (room temp) and place them under your eyes for about five minutes. Feel free to sip your chamomile tea while doing so. The more the merrier.
Other TCM Tricks
Bite into a juicy Asian pear to help get rid of those undereye bags. The fruit is full of copper and vitamin C, two super ingredients that can reduce aging eye skin.
Almond oil is another excellent TCM remedy. Apply the oil under your eyes twice a day until you see lighter pigment. The oil is fantastic, but have you tasted raw almonds? Go ahead and snack on a handful of those tasty nuts.
Aside from natural fixes, TCM practitioners recommend pairing herbal formulas with acupuncture for maximum results. Try herbs before acupuncture to feel out what works and what doesn’t.
Acupuncture Treatment for Dark Circles
Move over, plastic surgery, TCM acupuncture is the new sheriff in town. Cosmetic acupuncture is indeed a real thing and can be just as effective as, say, Botox, although it will take longer as your body adapts.. Aging causes the skin under the eyes to thin ever further. Lipid layers in that area also bulge and sag, which causes dark circles and puffiness.
That’s not something ANYONE in their 30s or 40s wants to hear.
However, cosmetic acupuncture can lift the skin, restoring elasticity and reducing saggy lip layers to fix dark, puffy bags. It can also improve blood circulation within your face. If you’re a bit squeamish about needles in your face, try TCM herbal remedies first.
TCM Can Beat Those Dark Circles
There you have it, folks—your guidebook to beating dark circles with the help of traditional Chinese medicine practices. Don’t forget that eating a balanced, nutritious diet and getting that extra five minutes of sleep never hurts. In the meantime, we’ll be using almond oil and brewing up an herbal remedy.