By Kate Downes, LAc TCM Practitioner
Are you bloated and battling breakouts? It’s no coincidence!
Your belly may seem completely unrelated to the blemishes on your face, but Chinese medicine sees a clear link between the two. And now modern research is proving it. Recent studies show that the gut has a bigger influence on other aspects of our health (like our skin, nervous system, and immunity) than we once thought.
So, how exactly are bloating and breakouts linked? And what can you do to regain your balance? Let’s find out!
The Skin Tells All
It’s difficult to know what’s going on inside your body - unless you listen to your skin, that is.
The body uses the skin as a messenger to alert us when something is off in our deeper organ systems. When you experience a skin reaction, breakouts, or stubborn skin issues, it’s a sign that you need to look within. And when it comes to skin issues like acne and breakouts, the gut is often what’s crying out for help.
Chinese medicine uses face mapping to pinpoint where the digestive system is stressed and what needs to be done to restore balance. For example, breakouts on the forehead often signal too many processed foods in the diet. Acne around the mouth indicates trouble (like inflammation or constipation) in the Large Intestine.
When you listen to your skin’s clues, these frustrating breakouts can actually help you take better care of your body!
Bloating, Build-Up, and Breakouts
If you’re bloated, you’re likely experiencing what Chinese medicine practitioners call “stagnation.” Stagnation is just what it sounds like; the digestive system is stuck, full, and doesn’t have the energy to process food efficiently. All this build-up leaves you feeling bloated like a balloon, even if you try to eat less and exercise more.
So, where does this stagnation come from? Usually, it’s the result of your diet. Food allergies, intolerances, or a diet high in processed foods will easily stress the gut. This causes inflammation and swelling, along with issues like gas and constipation. The microbiome falls out of balance and the system gets clogged.
Without a clear and easy way to release toxins through the digestive system, the body tries another exit point - the skin. Enter breakouts, acne, and rosacea. Yikes!
Healthy Gut, Healthy Skin
Here’s the good news: you can ditch the bloating and the breakouts simply by healing your gut! Just as a bloated, congested gut will clog your pores, a balanced digestive system will leave your skin clear, resilient, and looking better than ever.
Here are a few simple TCM tips to help you fight bloating and breakouts while supporting a happy gut:
Avoid processed foods, dairy, and sugar as much as possible. In Chinese medicine, these types of foods are highly inflammatory and quickly lead to bloating and breakouts. Instead, fill up on foods that clear heat and stagnation like apples, asparagus, cucumber, spinach, papaya, kiwis, and avocado, congees, mung beans, lentils, mint, and cardamom.
Movement is a crucial element of holistic skincare for several reasons. It promotes circulation throughout your body (including your skin) and reduces stress to keep acne-causing hormones at bay. Exercise also keeps your digestive system moving regularly, which helps you steer clear of both bloating and the buildup of acne-causing toxins in the gut. Yoga, tai chi, or even a brisk walk will do the trick!
Beat the bloat with a TCM herbal remedy.
Chinese medicine has a long history of healing digestive issues with herbal medicine. Make an herbal tonic that contains aromatic aged tangerine peel and jasmine, which together naturally reduce bloating, indigestion, and other tummy troubles. Along with boosting gut health, these herbs also naturally clear up congestion in the liver and skin.
Sip this tonic as a daily tea, stew in your morning porridge, or add to bone broth, soups, or stews to heal your gut and your skin.
Hydrate the herbalist’s way.
Hydration is key for both great digestion and beautiful skin. Why not go beyond the classic water and hydrate with a toxin-clearing, skin-nourishing herbal elixir?
Topically, we suggest the Leo Essence which contains antioxidant moringa oil and acne-fighting cardamom and bergamot. Apply this as your daytime moisturizer to balance oil production, soften and nourish skin, and combat breakouts.
While you are healing your gut from within, heal your skin directly with natural herbal cleansers like Taurus Cleanser for a deep cleanse as it's formulated with kaolin clay to clear out congestion and snow mushroom to keep skin hydrated and smooth.