Growing up, I always got heaps of praises from my mom for having such a healthy constitution (“such a big appetite! Never cried as a baby!”). I’ve only had to seek medical attention a few times until my twenties, which was why it was all the more confusing and frustrating when out of the blue, I started experiencing red rashes on my body and my face a few years ago.
After suffering for months with an inflamed red rash on my chest, I finally went to a dermatologist. She took a microsecond look and diagnosed it as eczema, prescribing a steroidal cream to calm it down. I asked her what was causing it, and she shrugged saying “it could be any number of factors.” Accepting that as word of law (she’s an M.D.!), I obediently applied the cream–and for what it was worth, the rash did disappear very quickly after that.
Unfortunately, a persistent redness on my chin never went away. In fact, I didn’t even make the connection that this chronic redness could be eczema–I thought it was broken capillaries like around some people’s nose, something rather harmless. It took another year for me to realize that this redness was flaring up in certain circumstances. When I ate things like spicy eggplant or spicy guacamole, I had hives on my feet and redness on my cheek that went away upon taking Claritin. So I went to an allergist this time, who took a microsecond to diagnose that I had eczema, and even knew that I sometimes get flare-ups on my neck. I thought that was just an itch from scarves!
He did a skin pin-prick test on me which revealed that I am allergic to dust/dust mites, oak pollen, and ash pollen. This time, I had the temerity to say I don’t want to put on hormonal creams to treat the symptoms, but to find the root of the problem. He said the steroidal cream sample he was giving was mild, but when I put it on at home it actually made the redness worse! I did clean the house top to bottom per his instructions, airing out my comforter, sheets, and pillow at least every other day and vacuuming every day. This reduced my eczema to a point where I felt in control of my life. If the redness crept up, I would just go on a cleaning spree and then shower to get rid of the grime.
But after I had spent an entire Saturday cleaning and still looked up in the mirror to see redness creeping up, I finally made an appointment with an acupuncturist. We started with a sit-down consultation, and the first thing she asked was whether I had cramps and whether my period looks clumpy. Evidently, this was my body having a hard time getting rid of the toxins–as evidenced also by my eczema. She made me stick out my tongue and declared, “You’re full of stress!” I asked if it’s the wrong color, and she said, “the color is fine, but your tongue is shaking like crazy!”
She explained that skin conditions are linked to your lungs and your liver. Now this makes so much sense because I complain about the air pollution in NYC every single day–I feel like I can’t breathe about 95% of the time, while everyone around me seems mostly unbothered. She agreed, but said the *biggest* cause is stress, which affects your liver. Lung imbalance gives you sadness while liver imbalance makes you angry. I replied that I’m sad sometimes, but I am really prone to anger at things like people walking too slowly in front of me. She laughed.
When I undressed and lay down, she first started by pricking several places in my right ear and bleeding it out to “drain toxins.” It sounds medieval but I was actually very comfortable and felt almost no pain. Then, she put needles on my ears, hands, thighs, and lower abs. She pointed out that my lower-ab hardness, which I always thought was just my abdominal muscles, was full of toxic build-up. I rested in the quiet and darkened room for the next 30 minutes or so, which went by very quickly.
When she came back and pulled out the needles, I could feel my lower abs were softer than they had been in years! It was very strange to discover that this is the normal state. I also felt very refreshed, energized, and happy.
The really dramatic difference showed up the next day, when I woke up to the least red chin I’ve seen in a long, long time. But the most astonishing difference was in my belly, which feels minty and fresh–a feeling I’ve *never* experienced before. Even as I’m typing this, I’m super conscious of that clean, peppermint feel like I’ve been brushing my insides with toothpaste!
If you’re also suffering from a chronic illness or especially skin conditions that your Western doctor says can be “caused by any number of things,” I advise you to try acupuncture to uncover the root of the problem instead of just managing the symptoms. Here are the lifestyle tips my acupuncturist recommended, besides getting treatment:
- Go to bed by 11:00pm and get adequate sleep.
- Avoid negative vibes people and hang out with happy people.
- Drink lots of water.
- Avoid spicy foods.
- Eat organic–To be honest, I volunteered that I eat organic vegan and she said organic is great because it avoids toxins. Along those lines, I also use only non-toxic beauty products, avoid food out of plastic wraps and containers, and clean the house with a DIY essential oil-baking soda spray.
Her main advice is: Reduce stress and manage your well-being at all costs–whatever it is you have to do to feel serene and avoid anxiety/anger, just do it. For me, this is a lot of letting go. For example, even as I’m typing this, I’m pissed off at some annoying work email situation, but instead of getting all offended as I’m wont to do, I’m choosing to let it go and just forget about it. It’s a medical necessity, at this point.
I also plan on following a liver-friendly lifestyle from our previous article–which, surprise surprise, includes acupuncture. I’m really excited to use acupuncture as a regular part of my health routine and get healed on the deepest level.
Do you have eczema or any other chronic skin conditions? Have you tried acupuncture?
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