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Enhance Your Eyes, Naturally

By Maureen M. Conant, L.Ac.

Eyes are one of our most beautiful and expressive features. A person's emotions, health and well being are all expressed by just a glance. Some of us enhance our eyes by curling our lashes or by framing them with the right pair of glasses. Eyes are one of the first places where health imbalances and aging appear. Many common complaints about eyes include puffiness, sagging eyelids, wrinkles or ‘crow’s feet’, dryness, redness, poor vision and dark circles underneath. All of these conditions illustrate an imbalance occurring internally in the body.

Let’s take a look at how TCM diagnoses eye disorders. The eyes are closely associated with the health of the Liver network. This doesn’t necessarily mean there is a problem with your actual Liver organ as we know it in Western Medicine. In TCM, the Liver meridian, runs through the eyes. Often times, if the Liver meridian or organ is undernourished, stuck, or simply imbalanced, it can cause eye symptoms. For example, too much ‘heat’ in the Liver, which can be the result of too much alcohol and spicy food or too much anger, can result in red, irritated eyes. An undernourished Liver network often results in poor vision or dry scratchy eyes.

The Kidney network is also important for eye health. The area underneath the eyes corresponds to the Kidney. Dark circles under the eyes can be caused by undernourishment or stagnation in the Kidney system. Overwork, constant stress, and lack of rest drain the Kidney system. Again, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have a problem with your actual Kidney organs. In TCM, the kidney system also includes the lower back, ears, hormonal system, and overall strength of your constitution.

Puffiness around the eyes is an indication of a problem with water metabolism in the body. The organs responsible for water metabolism in TCM are the Lung, Spleen and Kidney networks. Puffiness can be due to allergies, which will involve the lung system, or a lack of Qi in any of those organs, inhibiting the circulation of fluids leading to puffiness.

An overall lack of Qi in the body can cause a dull or lackluster appearance to the eyes and the entire face. When Qi is abundant and flowing properly, there is a sparkle to the eyes and rosy glow to the face.

Acupuncture and Acupressure work to correct the imbalances that cause these eye concerns. They can prevent droopy eyelids, reduce fine lines around the eyes and reduce puffiness. Your acupuncturist will diagnose and select an elegant combination of points on the face and body to treat the internal imbalance causing these symptoms.

There are things you can do yourself at home to help enhance your acupuncture treatments. Green tea and Chrysanthemum (Ju Hua) are both beneficial to the eyes. Brew up some tea with one or both and drink the tea, or soak some cotton balls in the tea and place them or the teabags directly over your eyes for 20-30 minutes. Green tea helps soothe eyes and relieve puffiness while Chrysanthemum is helpful for dry, irritated, scratchy eyes.

Herbal formulas can enhance your TCM beauty regimen. Some commonly used herbs for eye health are Chrysanthemum (Ju Hua), Lycium Fruit (Gou Qi Zi), Peony (Bai Shao), Black sesame seeds (Hei Zhi Ma), Ligustrum Fruit (Nu Zhen Zi), and Cassia Seed (Jue Ming Zi). As always, consult an herbalist and your doctor before adding herbs to your routine.

Foods for eye health include: apples, berries, grapes, dates, figs, melons, pears, plums, lycium fruit, black sesame seeds, lotus root, bitter melon, dark leafy greens, sprouts, molasses, and small amounts of organic meats. Also, avoid eating your last meal of the day too late to give your system a chance to rest and regenerate during sleep.

Your eyes tell a lot about the state of your mental and physical health. The above elements along with adequate rest and exercise can bring back that sparkle to your eye, and make people wonder what your secret is to your well rested glow.

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