I’ve been blessed. Ever since I got pregnant, the acne on my skin has cleared up significantly. Hooray for the progesterone levels! However, I believe it is also because of the nice sleep and rest I have been getting with baby growing in my belly. I still remember the horrible acne breakouts in the weeks leading up to my wedding. Yes, it was stressful. Yes, I wasn’t sleeping well, which probably contributed to most of the stress, hormones going out of whack and subsequently the breakouts. Actually, I have not been able to sleep well at night for the past … 10 years of my life? Needless to say, I have been sleeping way better since I got pregnant. I know some mothers-to-be experience interrupted sleep during pregnancy due to baby movement, uncomfortable sleep positions or frequent trips to the bathroom. Somehow, I am still able to “fall asleep” better even with those interruptions.
My acne situation back then wasn’t the mild type too. I had nodular type acne, which were painful, ugly, and annoying. My mother used to tell me that sleep was the easiest and most cost-effective way to prevent acne breakouts. Eastern health and medicinal practices focus on achieving balance in the human body. To simply put it, a healthy person will have balanced blood circulation and “qi” (life energy). When there is a “blockage” or an “interruption” then diseases will surface. In the Western medical world, prescriptions of medicine tend to focus only on isolated issues at hand, i.e. painkillers to relieve pain, hormone pills to readjust hormone levels, etc. Of course, the invention of antibiotics and vaccines have been proven to be a successful advancement in the medical world when it comes to saving lives. However, in Eastern medicine, recovering from an illness requires more effort from the patient than just popping a pill into the mouth. Consider how acupuncture works, an ancient Chinese method of medical treatment which still exists today in the modern world. One session of acupuncture doesn’t solve the issue. It takes regular sessions, and most often controlled with a certain type of diet and supplemented with herbal medicine. I’d like to say, it takes a lot of commitment and work in changing lifestyle and eating habits when one decides to follow the Eastern way of health.
Back to the subject of sleep, it is believed that with proper and sufficient sleep the body gets “repaired” well, thus boosting overall health and immunity in a person. I believe both Eastern and Western health experts agree on this point here as well. I was once told by a traditional Chinese doctor in order to be healthy in life, all a woman needs to do is take care of her kidneys, and all a man needs to do is take care of his liver. These two major organs are the key to overall health in general. I didn’t really think much of it until my recent adult years, where I started to detest my acne problem. Quite sensibly, the liver has many functions in the body, and one of them is detoxification. Similarly, the kidneys remove waste from the body too, serving as a natural filter of the blood. Therefore, if any of these organs start to fail … that means toxins will not be effectively exiting as waste from our body. Now, wouldn’t that cause problems in our bodies? Think about it … blood flow and circulation, doesn’t that cover almost our entire body? Doesn’t our major organs use blood as a transport medium for nutrients, toxins, antibodies, and oxygen?
How does this relate to sleep? The same traditional Chinese doctor told me that the liver in one’s body performs its detoxification function from 11 pm to 3AM, with its peak workload from 1 AM to 3 AM every night. By staying up late, or not resting well during those hours, the liver does not perform the detoxification function since the meridian clock of the body is “awake”. So imagine going one, two, or maybe three days in a row of burning the midnight oil or partying away with alcohol (we all know alcohol worsens the health of the liver) … now the liver has missed three sessions of detoxifying accumulated toxins in the body. Toxins do nasty things to the body. They mess up the internals, the externals as well as hormones. Everything just gets imbalanced in the end.
When I went to see this doctor about my acne problems, he first checked my pulse and then asked me about my sleeping habits. Naturally, he already knew what the problem was just by looking at the acne breakout patterns on my face. Moreover, at the time my menstrual cycle was always irregular. He also asked if I was stressed after I told him that I usually don’t sleep well at night. Then, he explained that the bad breakouts on my left cheek area and forehead indicates that I wasn’t getting enough rest at night. According to him, my liver was “too hot”, which means it is weak and unable to expel the toxins effectively. A similar analogy would be a car overheating, and thus unable to function until it cools down. In Eastern medicine, the body is out of balance when it is “too hot” or “too cold”. It’s just a literal translation from Mandarin when they use to describe what is not balanced within the body. Also, the breakouts on my right cheek indicated that my pulse was irregular. He said I needed to relax more because once people are stressed, they forget how to breathe properly and this affects the natural “flow” within the body. Proper breathing is a way of balancing the flow of “qi” in one’s body, as believed byEastern health practices. This reminded me of yoga, where proper breathing techniques are key to calm and relax the body. At the end of the day, he prescribed some herbal medication to help strengthen my liver. I took it only for a week, but never went back for follow-up and more prescription because life got busy and the wedding activities took priority. I’ve only just realized how the gradual improvement in my sleeping habits has helped with my acne problems. Of course, I still do get breakouts occasionally, but they aren’t as severe anymore. Moreover, it wasn’t an overnight result, this improvement took more than 6 months to witness! Perhaps, now that I’m back at my parents home … the lifestyle is better too. My diet is healthier, and since I’m not working I do not stress unnecessarily as much. Although, I wonder when baby arrives … how are things going to be?? I’ll definitely be deprived of sleep again and so maybe the pimples will come back with a vengeance!
Here’s a photo in Chinese, which I found on Facebook, describing the acne breakout areas that relate to areas of the body which may be the root of the problem. I have included a simple translation below. Well doesn’t hurt to try and pay more attention to those areas, after all it doesn’t cost a single cent. All it needs is a little more effort on our part, i.e. drink more water (cut the alcohol if you can!), change eating habits to improve digestion, sleep early (before 11 pm), and breathe right!
Nose area breakout: Problems with indigestion (stomach)
Forehead area breakout: Liver is overworked
Left cheek area breakout: Liver unable to expel toxins effectively, body accumulating toxins, which finds its way to exit the body through acne on the skin
Right cheek area breakout: problems with respiratory (imbalanced oxygen intake)
Mouth area breakout: Constipation (insufficient bowel movements)
Chin area breakout: Insufficient water intake