STRESS – YIN = Dry Skin
And The TCM Fix
Skin still dry no matter how much moisturizer you put on? Dry skin can be frustrating and sometimes even painful. You might want to set those skin products aside, though, because the root of your issue might lie far beneath the surface.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), yin and yang rule the day (yes, we’re talking about that swirly black and white symbol). When there’s a lack of yin in the body, dryness can take over, eventually making its way up to your skin. Learn more about yin and yang, how a yin deficiency can occur, and ways to get your dry skin back in shape.
Yin and Yang
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the concept of yin and yang dictates how much of our physical processes work properly. It’s believed that all things have qi, or an innate energetic life force. Each person, animal, and inanimate thing in the world has some kind of qi. That qi can then be classified, or turned into either yin or yang. These two are partners, yet they contain completely opposite traits and styles. It’s necessary that both are present and equal in strength for a healthy body. Each organ in the body is said to be “ruled” by either yin or yang
While the yin and yang energies shift and flow in and endless give-and-take, there are certain attributes that are considered one or the other. For example, yin is considered dark, negative, cold, cloudy, water, soft, feminine, moist, night, slow, and passive. On the other hand, yang is referred to as bright, positive, hot, hard, dry, restless, masculine, hot, and day.
When it comes to your skin, it’s important to note the key yin and yang qualities in play. Yin is cold and moist while yang is all about the heat and dryness. When balanced and working together, the body maintains a natural level of heat and moisture. But when yin becomes deficient, yang takes over and the body is run by heat, which then depletes the body’s moisture and leads to overall dryness, affecting your skin.
Is a Yin Deficiency Ruining Your Skin?
A yin deficiency is likely to create issues in your body in a few different ways. If you’re truly yin deficient, you’ll probably be experiencing feelings of dryness in several areas, such as the mouth, skin, throat, and eyes. You may also have a low fever, feel constantly hot or sweaty, have underlying redness in the skin, or be particularly thirsty. Depending on the organ from which the deficiency is stemming, there may be additional, or different symptoms expressed.
But what causes yin deficiency? According to TCM, if your schedule is fast-paced and causes you to rush about frequently, you’re probably draining your yin. Other causes include eating too quickly or while distracted and long periods of feeling stressed. Stress is the most powerful of the yin deficiency triggers. When we’re stressed, our bodies are put into overdrive trying to keep up with the emotional and physiological changes occurring. This in turn demands more of each organ system, tiring them, and eventually forcing them to function on minimal nourishment and energy.
Get Your Yin (and Dry Skin) Back in Shape
The good news? Dry skin and poor yin aren’t permanent. There are several TCM-inspired ways to get things back in order so your skin will be glowing again in no time. Depending on the severity of your yin deficiency, you may need one or a combination of several of these practices to return your body to balance.
Take Some “Me Time”
In TCM, yin is said to possess gentle, quiet, and calm qualities. It’s believed that setting aside time to do peaceful activities can strengthen your yin. It can be an excellent excuse to get some personal time in. You can try activities like reading, journaling, painting, coloring, spending time in nature, or meditating. Or treat yourself to a relaxing spa day with restorative treatments like facials, massages, mud baths, or nail treatments. The quiet time will be a good reset for you and for your yin!
Try Gentle Exercises
Many TCM practitioners also suggest participating in low intensity workouts to help restore yin. Fast paced cardio exercises, or anything that leaves you drenched in sweat or out of breath are exercises you’ll want to avoid, as they’ll only add more heat to the body. However, gentle exercises like yoga, tai chi, qi gong, slow walks, or light swimming can get the body moving enough to initiate yin formation without overdoing it.
Sleep is another important consideration when attempting to fix a yin deficiency. As mentioned above, yin is connected to the night and the moon, both closely related to sleep. Making sure you’re getting enough sleep each and every night is vital to the process of healing from yin deficiency. The time we spend sleeping is the body’s key healing and growth period, so when that time is cut short or spent restlessly, our body takes longer to heal. Try to keep your bedtime and wake up times consistent, create a quiet and peaceful sleeping place, and be sure you’re getting the seven to nine hours you need to heal.
Increase Your Intake of Yin Foods
As mentioned above, every thing living or nonliving contains qi that’s defined as either yin or yang. This theory includes the foods we eat. When the body is yin deficient, one of the best ways to support recovery is by adjusting the diet to include more yin foods. These include foods such as:
- Sweet potatoes
- Green tea
- Seaweed and kelp
- Bok choy
- Any citrus fruit
Watch How and When You Eat
In addition to what you eat, be sure to maintain structure around when and how you eat. Consistency is key. Try to eat around the same time each day and aim to make your dinner the lightest meal of the day and as far away from bedtime as you can. This helps the body’s digestive system work to its full potential. In TCM it’s also believed that eating your meals without distractions like work or television is also important to a healthy body. Truly savor and enjoy your food and remain aware of when you feel full so you can be more attune to your body’s needs.
Types of Yin Deficiencies
Curious as to which organ your lack of yin is affecting? There are a few notable differences in the experience of yin deficiency in different organs, and it’s important to note that in many cases, more than one organ is actually depleted of yin at the same time.
Kidney Yin Deficiency
In the large majority of yin deficiency situations, especially when your skin is involved, it’s likely that the kidney is the primary organ suffering. According to TCM, the Kidney is the home to the body’s jing, or essence. The jing is said to be where yin and yang come from, along with our sense of youthful vitality. This is why when the Kidney yin is deficient, you’re more likely to show a lack of radiance in your skin, hair, and nails. In addition to the general symptoms, a Kidney yin deficiency might leave you feeling dizzy, with a sore lower back, achy bones, constipation, or hearing trouble. The Kidney is also the organ that tends to spread the deficiency onto others. You can read more about the role of the Kidneys in TMC here.
Liver Yin Deficiency
The Liver tends to be one of the first organs affected by a yin deficiency following the Kidney. This is because the Kidney and Liver are connected due to the Kidney’s role as the nourisher of the Liver. Liver-specific yin deficiency symptoms can include numb arms and legs, blurry vision, dizziness, dry eyes, insomnia, and irritability.
Heart Yin Deficiency
If the Heart is experiencing a yin deficiency, you may notice that you’ve been having a hard time relaxing. Another organ that functions in tandem with the Kidney, it can easily be influenced when the Kidney is under attack. Typically the Kidney sends yin to the heart to keep it cool while the Heart sends yang to the Kidneys to fire up their functionality. A lack of yin in the Kidney means that this trade of won’t happen with an equal trade, causing eventual issues for the heart. Some additional symptoms might include heart palpitations, anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, and vivid dreams.
Stomach Yin Deficiency
Poor eating habits tend to be the primary culprit behind a Stomach yin deficiency. If you’ve been skipping meals, eating at unusual hours, stress eating, or multi-tasking while eating, you could be triggering a yin deficiency in your Stomach. This is the only yin deficiency that isn’t linked back to the Kidneys. Some Stomach-specific symptoms of yin deficiency include lack of appetite, dry mouth and throat, constipation, stomach pain, and thirst.
Lung Yin Deficiency
The final primary type of yin deficiency can occur in the Lung. The primary issue for Lungs is that the increase of heat depletes them of moisture, which is vital to their ability to keep us breathing properly. Dry Lungs, mean a yin deficiency is likely occurring. Some ways to tell if this is happening to you come by way of these symptoms; dry cough, coughing up blood, or losing your voice.
Do you have a holistic trick you swear by to overcome dry skin? Share with us by dropping us a comment!