- Art of Wellness Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine11704 Wilshire Blvd. Ste. 295
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Mon 9:00am - 2:00pm Tue 7:30am - 4:30pm Wed 7:30am - 4:30pm Thu 12:00pm - 7:00pm Fri 7:30am - 4:30pm Sat 7:30am - 4:30pm Sun Closed
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by Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.
“The qi of the five zang organs manifests in the face. . .if we see green like jade, red like the crown of a rooster, yellow like the underside of a crab, white like the lard of a pig, or black like the feathers of a black chicken, these are the colors of life.”
– The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine
A practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine can tell a lot about your health from your face and your skin. In TCM, each of the organ systems corresponds to one of the sense organs; so the appearance and function of the eyes, nose, mouth, ears, and eyes can give the doctor information about what might be going on in the liver, heart, intestines, and other major organs. Conversely, problems in the liver, etc., will show on your face. The skin is considered the “opening” of the lungs; this is why problems with environmental toxins often display themselves through skin conditions such as eczema, rashes, psoriasis, hair loss, acne, dullness or roughness.
In other words, we know that health, and beauty, are not only “skin-deep.” The skin’s surface and the life of the facial features give us clues as to what is going on underneath. The skin reflects imbalances of the internal landscape of the body. Stress and strong emotions, hormone imbalances, inappropriate dietary habits and environmental influences all will be represented on the skin, our largest organ. We must treat the underlying conditions deep within the body first, then we will see the skin bloom with health. Any skin condition is like a red flag showing that there are some impurities or toxins building up inside. Normally, our bodies can self-clean; our liver and kidney filter all impurities out. But if there are too many toxins, or the body is under a lot of stress –eg., not enough sleep, or lacking in regular “tune-ups,” just as a car needs maintenance at regular intervals–, then the problems build up and break outs occur.
For example, conditions such as scaling psoriasis and rosacea are often caused by excess internal heat, especially that which we call Stomach Fire, so our acupuncture and herbal treatments will be designed to clear the heat, along with dietary changes, such as avoidance of alcohol, coffee, sugar, and red meat (all of which we recommend avoiding, anyway). Western medicine will often treat these conditions with cortisone, which may suppress the some of the symptoms for the duration of use, but it will not address the root cause. Long-term use of cortisone can have very detrimental effects on your overall health.
Hives – itchy, red patches that come and go – are considered by Western medicine to be caused by histamine reactions, and are almost always treated with antihistamines. In TCM, they are considered a “wind rash;” like wind, they can be cold or hot, and can move from one place to another quickly. This signals a weakness in the exterior immune barrier that your skin provides, and that you are extra susceptible to stress and/or allergens in your environment. Balancing the excess heat or cold in the body with acupuncture treatment, discovering where the irritants are coming from and altering your diet, hygiene regimens, etc. can alleviate the hives, and also strengthen your overall immunity.
Eczema, or dermatitis, can show up in many forms, but they are all due to imbalances in the body caused by toxic buildup from both external and internal sources. Again, stress and hormones play a role, as do the plethora of artificial toxins in our environment. The body’s own immune response to this constant bombardment of toxins can cause skin irritations. Our strategy might include building up deficient blood with more nutrients, clearing dampness, and prescribing cleansing herbs and foods.
Acne – pimples or lesions that break out on the skin’s surface – is not a superficial problem. It is always related to things that are going on internally, often with the digestive system. Improper diet or imbalances in hormones lead to inflammation that is “overflowing,” and, having nowhere else to go, erupts out of the body through the skin. Making appropriate modifications to your food program and balancing hormones will clear the acne for good, where topical solutions and birth control pills provide only temporary improvement.
If aging is your concern, we are able to choose specific points for an acupuncture facial, which tightens and tones the skin and boosts the production of collagen. This treatment will help smooth fine wrinkles, improve circulation, and hasten healing of any acne, rosacea, and other skin irritations. Acupuncture also releases endorphins, which make you feel more relaxed and positive. Most people find acupuncture treatment painless and relaxing. You can see a difference after just one or two treatments, but the benefits keep growing, as the results are cumulative.
Why choose acupuncture over modern dermatological procedures? If you are looking for treatment that is natural,with natural-looking results and no or minimal negative side effects, it is worth a try. If you come with a skin condition, we will conduct a full consultation to determine which organ system has an imbalance and offer acupuncture treatment to improve Qi flow, cupping to get rid of deep tissue toxins and activate the lymphatic system to clean the internal organs, herbal therapy to clear heat, and dietary suggestions to prevent the skin condition from coming back.
By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.
The New Year is traditionally a time to re-focus our attention and energies. For many of us, this includes a renewed interest in our physical health. Taking the time and effort to “do a cleanse” may have become a trendy idea in recent years, but it is actually an age-old practice with many benefits.
Every day we are bombarded by toxins through processed foods, environmental pollution, chemical-based products, cell phones and devices, emotional and mental stress. All these toxic phenomena put tremendous pressure on the body. Toxins can cause us to feel foggy and fatigued, cause memory loss, anxiety, hair loss, weight gain, insomnia, constipation, hormone imbalance, rapid aging, and can even be one of the root causes of cancer and other diseases. It is so important to take time to detoxify the organ systems and get a fresh start. The Art of Wellness One-Week Detox program is an excellent way to cleanse the body and clear the mind.
Our Detox is not, like many store-bought products, just a colon cleanse. Following our program will release toxins from the deep tissues of the body, boost the functioning of the immune and liver systems, and strengthen Qi. The program works on several levels, using acupuncture, cupping, herbs (used internally and externally), nutrition and exercise.
The acupuncture portion of the program is designed to open up blocked pathways in the body, reestablishing connections between the organ systems. The herbal teas and patches will stimulate the kidney system and improve the functioning of the immune and reproductive . Herbal baths, aromatic and relaxing, also help to utilize one of the body’s most important excretory organs—the skin. Cupping treatments “vacuum” toxins from the lung, kidney and liver systems, while Tui Na and Qi Gong exercises massage the internal organs.
Detox participants will be given a food plan to follow for the week. This diet is not a fast; it consists of plenty of grains, greens and proteins, so it is both nourishing and filling. As Dr. Tan says, “hunger is not a solution.” The goal is to eat lots of clean, wholesome foods to strengthen the body during detoxification.
We recommend that everyone tries practicing a detox every six months for optimal health. Please call our office to get started on your New Year Detox Program to start a new, healthier year. We offer you our best wishes for your peace and wellness.
Everybody knows that food is what gives our bodies the energy we need to survive. But not everybody is aware that certain foods should be consumed during specific times of the year. In areas like the Midwest, where fruits and vegetables are harder to keep on hand when the weather becomes colder, this principle is followed a little more closely. But in areas like Hawaii and Southern California, where fresh fruits and vegetables are always available and the climate is more moderate, people sometimes forget to eat according to the seasons. continue reading
Oriental medicine (OM) nutrition combines ancient wisdom with modern science. OM nutrition is a holistic approach, which aims to balance all five flavors within most meals with one or two flavors being emphasized for therapeutic purposes. OM nutrition for a hypertension emphasizes bitter flavors, sour flavors and energetically-cooling foods.
OM theory states the bitter flavor benefits the heart in moderation but an excess is harmful as it has a drying effect; for example, coffee is bitter. In moderation coffee acts as vasodilator increasing circulation but in excess it can raise blood pressure and has a diuretic effect. Modern scientific research has discovered while the human genome has 25 bitter taste receptors 12 of these are expressed in the human heart. continue reading
By Xiaomei Cai, L.Ac., Ph.D.
We usually think of inflammation as something that affects our muscles and joints, causing them to swell and ache. More recently, science has made it clear that inflammation is also part of what causes poor blood flow through the arteries, causing problems of the circulation and the heart. But, really, the root cause of inflammation is a function of the metabolism, or digestive process. It is the body’s normal defensive response to excess internal heat. Excess heat can be caused by stress, too many calories, and the wrong kinds of foods.
An anti-inflammatory diet is, first and foremost, a low calorie diet. The meaning of “calorie” is, after all, a unit measurement of heat energy. Simply put, ingesting more calories creates more heat in the body. If the calories aren’t being burned through physical activity, then they are stored in the body as excess fat. Fat not only weighs you down, but triggers the immune system, which tries to attack the fat as if it was a foreign substance. Carrying excess fat acts on several levels to create detrimental inflammation within the body.
It is important to pay attention not only to what you eat, and how much, but also how you eat, and when. Many people’s eating habits lead to poor digestion.
Eat sitting down. The body draws both blood and Qi into its center – the stomach and spleen – in order to digest food. Eating while standing or walking, or trying to concentrate on some other problem, draws much-needed energy to the extremities or the brain, away from the digestive process.
Chew food thoroughly. Failure to chew adequately means that the rest of your digestive system has to work harder to break down your food into usable nutrition.
In general, choose more fresh, raw, and lightly cooked foods, and avoid baked, fried and heavily processed foods. These foods retain the heat energy that was used in their preparation, and that creates more heat inside you.
Increase your use of ginger, turmeric and herbs like rosemary, thyme, and oregano, all of which have anti-inflammatory properties. Choose high Omega-fatty-acid fish such as salmon, and good quality fish oils. Eat lots of leafy greens. Avoid coffee, and drink green tea instead. Fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut/kimchee, miso and tempeh help to heal and promote good balance in the intestines. Shitake mushrooms are a source of copper, a rare nutrient, important in the prevention of arterial inflammation.
It probably comes as no surprise that we recommend cutting back on unhealthy fats (trans fats, processed cooking oils, and fatty red meat). And avoid sugar as strictly as possible, as sugar consumption leads to insulin resistance and is a major cause of inflammation.
Avoid the nightshade vegetables: peppers, eggplants, potatoes and tomatoes. This includes spices and seasonings made from peppers, such as paprika and red pepper flakes. These foods can irritate the intestines, affecting their permeability and setting off unwanted immune responses. These in turn lead to inflammation, muscle spasms and stiffness.