Chinese medicine claims that bags and dark circles under the eyes are associated with poor Kidney energy. Because there are different types of poor Kidney energy, with different causes, there are also several treatments for it. Read on to discover the possible causes of bags under the eyes and how to treat them.
Hollows and shadows under the eyes
Hollows and shadows under the eye area indicate a deficiency and dryness of the Kidney* Yin. Other symptoms may include dizziness; tinnitus; poor memory; thirst and a dry mouth at night; night sweats; a burning sensation in the palms, soles of the feet and centre of the chest; a sore back and knees; constipation; and dark, concentrated urine. The condition may also be associated with weight loss. Not all of these symptoms are necessarily present, but a dry mouth and night sweats are key symptoms of Kidney Yin issues. You can also look at your tongue; with this condition it is usually red and has no coating.
Kidney Yin deficiency may be due to a long-term illness, prolonged excessive working or long-term emotional stress. A lack of Yin causes the Yang energy to increase and because Yang is fire and hot in nature, it dries out fluids, causing hollowness under the eyes, heat in the body, a dry mouth and night sweats. This fire due to the scarcity of Yin is called the Fire of Emptiness.
*Chinese medicine views the internal organs as having much broader functions than Western medicine. This difference is emphasized in Chinese medicine by writing the names of the internal organs with an initial capital. In Chinese medicine, the internal organs are associated with energetic functions, mental activity and emotional life. Thus, when we talk about a weakness in the Kidneys, for example, it does not mean that there is something wrong with the kidneys from a Western point of view.
Chinese medicine regards the Kidneys as holding the Essence of life. A person receives a ‘deposit’ of this Essence before birth, and the amount received is unique to everyone. It cannot be added to, which is why it is said to be a precious life energy worth protecting. The best way to preserve this Essence is to observe moderation in your life, that is, not to tire oneself out. The Essence obtained at the time of conception can be supported and strengthened by Essence obtained from food and drink, which is different in its nature from that received before birth. That is why a healthy diet is important.
When Kidney Yin is low, it is important to slow down, rest and sleep well. In addition, it is important to increase the amount of Fluids. Simply drinking plenty of tap water is not the answer, but it is essential to maintain high water levels in the body. The body needs the minerals that bind and transport water. From the perspective of Chinese medicine, warm boiled water is the best. This does not mean that the water needs to be consumed hot – it can be allowed to cool down. Nor is there a need to drink large quantities; in fact, this is seen to be harmful in Chinese medicine. Instead, water should be sipped slowly throughout the day. It is advisable to mix a pinch of unrefined sea salt or electrolyte powder into the water so that it can be properly absorbed and hydrate the body. Spring water would be ideal, but filtered tap water is also great. In addition to water, one should enjoy bone broth, soups and seaweed (seaweed is a great addition to various soups and bone broth is also suitable for soups, sauces and casseroles).
In addition to collagen and elastin, gentle facial gua sha activates fibroblasts, which secrete substances that moisturize the connective tissues, the best known being the water-binding hyaluronic acid. Facial gua sha supports the skin’s metabolism, microcirculation and lymphatic fluid flow, which helps transport oxygen and nutrients to the skin. As a result, the skin regenerates more effectively and stays healthy.
Bulging eye bags
Bulging bags under the eyes indicate a deficiency of Kidney Yang. This means that the flow of Fluids is blocked and too much Fluid has accumulated in the tissue. Other symptoms may include a cold back, cold and weak knees, an aversion to the cold, cold limbs, weak lower limbs, a strikingly pale face, fatigue, apathy, lack of energy and swelling elsewhere in the body, especially in the lower extremities. The tongue is usually pale and may be swollen. A swollen tongue can usually be identified by its ‘gingerbread edges’, or tooth marks around the edges of the tongue because the tongue is ‘too big’.
Kidney Yang deficiency may be caused by a long-term illness (e.g. hypothyroidism) or old age, but could also be the result of weakness of the Spleen Qi, which is very common and associated with digestive issues.
Kidney Yang can be increased by consuming fennel seeds, ginger, cloves, onions, red meat, lamb and salmon, as these warm the body and the body lacks the heat brought by yang energy. However, it is important to maintain a balance and also support the Kidney Yin, for which seaweed, chlorella and blueberries, for example, are good. Black sesame seeds are excellent for strengthening the Kidneys all round.
According to Chinese medicine, food should be consumed cooked and warm as this is optimal for digestion. Because the deficiency of Kidney Yang is often due to a weakness of the Spleen Qi, which is associated with digestion, raw fruit and vegetables and cold or cooling foods should be avoided, especially when suffering from this condition. It is also a good idea to ensure that not too much food is consumed.
Facial gua sha is the most effective treatment for swelling due to Kidney Yang deficiency. In particular, lymphatic therapy improves the flow of Fluids and eliminates their accumulation. The number one tool for eye skin and lymphatic treatment is Yin Your Skin NIVA Gua Sha spoon. The best way to learn the right techniques for treatment of the lymphatic vessels and the skin around the eyes is our web course, Yin Your Skin level 2 – Advanced Facial Gua Sha.
Prolapse of the fat pad under the eye
In addition to the above causes of bags under the eyes, there may also be bags that have clearly sunk down and have a depression underneath them. In this case, the bag is fat rather than water, which is what should be under the eyes, as is the case elsewhere on the face. Ligaments support the skin and the subcutaneous fat layer on the sides of the face, including under the eyes. These are formed of dense connective tissue and run from the bone to the skin. With age, these ligaments can become loose, leading to a fat pad prolapsing under the eye. This can simply be due to age, but of course there are other possible factors involved, some genetic and some constitutional, while others are lifestyle-related, such as low-grade inflammation.
Regular facial gua sha activates the fibroblasts, which in turn helps to maintain the elasticity, flexibility and moisture content of the connective tissue. In addition, the treatment relaxes the muscles of the face, improving its tone. Due to the ageing process the muscles are constantly in a slightly active state, that is, contracted. Facial gua sha brightens and invigorates the skin around the eyes and can tighten loose ligaments to some extent. Of course, manual treatment does not work like a surgeon’s knife, but rather supports the vibrant and natural ageing of the skin. You can discover the most effective techniques for the treatment of ageing skin and the skin around the eyes in our web course, Yin Your Skin level 2 – Advanced Facial Gua Sha.
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