This year I decided to see a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Practitioner here in Hong Kong, to see if she could help with my adult acne (something I’ll fully cover in another newsletter) that I’ve been dealing with for the past few years. After seeing her for a few weeks, hearing what she said (translated by my friend who came with me) and taking the herbal medicine she prescribed, I’ve been looking into the ancient practice and would like to share what I’ve learnt so far in honour of Chinese New year – the year of the pig.

According to Chinese philosophy & much like Ayurveda – ancient Indian medicine, which we’ll also cover at a later date – we get sick because the elements that make up our bodies are out of balance. In TCM this balance is controlled by the relationship of yin and yang within our systems, affecting our qi, or life force. Ideally, we should have our elements and yin (cold and feminine energy) and yang (hot or masculine energy) balanced out for optimal health.

So, let’s have a look at the diagnoses

In my case, I had too much heat in the body – or a yang imbalance – which caused my blood vessels to expand and resulted in a slightly red and spotty face. The lovely (not really) herbal concoction she prescribed me with is designed to cool, balance my elements and detoxify the system– and believe me, it did! It got a lot worse before it got better as part of the detoxification process.

A yang imbalance usually refers to symptoms related to inflammation and any symptoms that make the body feel “hot”. It comes from eating too many acidic foods and I was told to avoid meat (which I don’t eat anyway), spicy foods (which I loooove – even on a hot day), chillies, pepper and fried foods. Other examples of foods that are ‘warming ’ include lamb and beef – specifically, chocolate, coffee, oranges, ginger, chicken broth, garlic and yoghurt, though she didn’t tell me to avoid these ones.

Symptoms – Other than pimples, a yang imbalance can also cause dry skin, fever, acid reflux, chapped lips, high blood pressure, rashes, hot flashes and ulcers.

– So if you’re anything like me and struggle with skin conditions or any of the above, try eating more of these cooling foods to help balance it out: green tea, watermelon, pears, cucumbers, grapefruit, apples, bananas, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage, eggplant, spinach, Swiss chard, celery, soybeans, buckwheat, sesame oil, papaya, watermelon, grapefruit, tomatoes, asparagus, cucumbers, lettuce, seaweed, barley and tofu.

Next week we will continue on with yin conditions, but for the meantime enjoy your Chinese New Year break – if you’re celebrating – and drop me a line if you’d like to chat more about this 🙂