By now, and you've likely heard it before, the healthier we are on the inside the healthier, and younger, we appear on the outside. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) offers a unique perspective on this topic as it ties our health together between organ systems. At the center of understanding this topic is the concept of pre-natal and post-natal qi (pronounced "chee"). Pre-natal qi is the life force we are inherently born with and while we cannot change it, we can protect it. Post-natal qi is acquired after birth and two Chinese medicine organ systems are its primary sources, the lungs and the spleen/pancreas/stomach. When considering this paradigm, it is good to note that the Chinese medicine concepts of organ systems, though they seem similar to the Western medicine concepts of organ function, actually are very unique.From a TCM perspective the skin is an outcropping of the lung organ system. The lungs function to moisten the skin to keep it supple and in its best shape possible to serve as a defense against pathogens from the environment. The lung organ system is also our primary resource for our bodies' "post-natal" qi. Therefore, when our lungs are healthy, we tend to have healthy skin, a strong immune system, and ample energy. Vegetables rich in color like broccoli, carrots, and kale, exercise, quitting smoking, acupuncture, and some herbs help support the lungs and will help keep us looking healthier and younger. While the lung organ system is at the forefront of looking young, other organ systems support the lungs and contribute to keeping us feeling and looking our best. Consider the Chinese medicine digestive organs of the spleen/pancreas and stomach. When our digestive systems are strong, these organs support the lungs. When they are weak, they produce "dampness" and "phlegm" which is stored in the lungs and therefore displayed on the skin. Certain foods encourage phlegm and dampness such as wheat, dairy, alcohol and sugar. Surprising to most patients with weak digestive systems, raw fruits and veggies may also cause dampness and phlegm to build-up in the system because these cold foods are difficult to digest. Looking for some quick and easy tips to look younger now while you work on your lung and digestive health? There are simple age-defying tricks that don't require knives or botulism. 1. Avoid excessive sun exposure and wear sunscreen during the day. 2. Apply oatmeal to skin as a mask (moisturizing benefits).3. Receive regular facials using products that are skin-friendly. Combining a facial with acupuncture has even more positive skin-enhancing/lifting effects.4. Drink green tea.5. Use olive oil in your diet and topically.For more tips on aging gracefully, attend a seminar at Sprouts tomorrow morning, 10 a.m. Saturday, March 9, at which time Dr. Schulte and Carolyn Lampshire, LE, will present on "Defying Age Naturally" and will demonstrate a facial rejuvenation acupuncture treatment. April L. Schulte-Barclay is a doctor of acupuncture and Oriental medicine and is a licensed acupuncturist. She is licensed by the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners and is certified by the National Certification Commission of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. She is founder and clinic director of Healing Horizons Integrated Health Solutions, located at 2139 N. 12th St. #7. For more information, call 970-256-8449.
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