According to Chinese Medicine, one of the most common causes of disease is repressed emotions. Emotional health is an integral part of Chinese Medicine. The seven emotions associated with disease are: anger, joy, worry, pensiveness, grief, fear and fright. As stated in an ancient text, the Su Wen, Chapter 8, our internal organs are portrayed in terms of their mental, emotional and spiritual function1. When emotions are prolonged, intense or repressed, they can inhibit the normal flow of Qi2 to our organs. Since our primary method of expressing our emotions is our face, it is essential to ensure the free flow of emotions to and from the face. Hence, facial acupuncture can play an important role in promoting not only skin health, but physical health as well.
There is a feedback system between the face and our organs which allows for communication between them. This free flow of resources is intrinsic to the appearance of our face and to the underlying health of the associated organ systems. Our ability to connect with and express these emotions requires proper functioning of the organs and a smooth flow of Qi through the channels. Numerous studies have demonstrated the feedback system between our facial expressions and emotions. Studies performed by Paul Ekman have shown that if a person merely arranges his face into a certain expression, he will feel the corresponding emotion. In other words, emotions work from the outside in as well as the inside out. i.e. happiness may be as simple as putting on a smile.3 Conversely, an individual who cannot or does not express emotions through their facial expressions will not feel the emotion as fully. In an experiment involving the use of Botox to paralyze facial muscles involved in frowning, Havas, Glenberg, Gutowski, Lucarelli, and Davidson5 discovered lessened depressive symptoms in patients after paralysis of their frowning muscles. A study published in the Annals of Clinical and Translation Neurology, suggest that facial feedback modulates the neural processing of emotional content.7 Habitual patterns of expression get lodged in the face, and repressed or excessive emotions can affect our organs. It is a two-way system with feedback from the face to our organs and our organs to our face.
There are over 60 acupuncture points on the face. Any impediment to the channels translates to diminished function. If the energy in our face is blocked and we do not or cannot express an emotion with our face, we will not feel it as fully. For example, the actual expression of joy (smiling) can nourish the heart. According to the Su Wen “in order to make all acupuncture thorough and effective one must first cure the spirit”1. The radiance of the skin and eyes is intrinsically connected to the spirit. Facial acupuncture involves the practitioner being present in the room with the patient for extended periods of time (it can take 30 minutes to insert all the needles), it provides a unique opportunity to learn more about a patient’s spiritual and emotional well-being. This can help to facilitate the healthy expression of emotion. Below is an example of how this all works.
The Feedback Loop; How the emotions can affect the associated organs and out of balance organs affect the face according to Chinese Medicine Theory:
Excessive or lack of joy injures the Heart:
- Emotion out of balance-restlessness, insomnia, lack of enthusiasm
- Weakened heart function can lead to facial swelling and puffiness
- Heart Blood deficiency can lead to wrinkles due to dryness
- Heart fire can cause facial redness, blemishes
- Disturbed Shen can lead to poor sleep, dark eye circles and puffiness
- Excessive smiling can cause crow’s feet & deep nasolabial folds
Grief injures the Lungs:
- Emotion out of balance-excessive sadness, detachment
- The lungs rule the Qi of the entire body
- The lungs also control the skin
- Impairment of lung function can lead to dryness and wrinkles
- Excessive sweating due to poor lung function can cause acne
- Frowning can cause marionette lines (from corner of mouth to jaw)
Anger injures the Liver:
- Emotion out of balance-frustration, moodiness, explosive anger, irritability
- The Liver controls the Blood and the flow of Qi to all the organ systems
- Stagnation of liver Qi often leads dark spots
- Liver Blood deficiency can lead to dry skin
- A frequent expression of anger can cause vertical lines between the eyebrows
Pensiveness/Worry injures the Spleen:
- Emotion out of balance-ruminating, excessive overthinking
- The face depends on the spleens function of transformation of food into Qi and Blood
- When spleen Qi is deficient, there is a loss of skin tone, sagging and laxity
- If the spleens ability to control transportation of fluids is diminished, the face will look puffy and there can be bags under the eyes.
- Pensiveness can cause lines around the lips and at the bridge of the nose
Fear/Fright injures the Kidneys:
- Emotion out of balance-fearful, isolated, no will (zhu)
- The kidneys regulate the fluid balance and store the essence
- Deficient kidney yin can cause dark eye circles
- If kidney yang is low, there can be puffiness around the eyes
- When Kidney essence is insufficient, aging is accelerated
- Fear can cause lateral forehead lines, lines on cheeks
At the core of Facial Acupuncture is the foundation of treating the whole person. Doing so allows the health of the body to reflect on the skin and allowing for full expression of balanced emotional health. It is impossible to separate our emotions, our expression of them, and our health.
Have you ever wondered why women are more prone than men to form wrinkles around the mouth? There are several reasons for this, and Facial Acupuncture can provide a safe, effective solution.
According to an analysis by dermatologists in the Netherlands*:
- Women (especially postmenopausal women) have fewer oil-producing sebaceous glands around the upper lip – meaning less oil to keep the skin soft and supple.
- Women have fewer blood vessels in the upper lip area resulting in less blood flow to the region.
- The muscles around the mouth are closer to the skin in women than they are in men; this can mean the skin is pulled closer, leading to wrinkles.
- Hormones also play a role in women’s aging process. As a woman ages and looses estrogen, her skin thins out, creating a crepey appearance.
- Postmenopausal women experience a decrease in the fat (sebum) secreted by the few sweat glands they do have. Less fat means more sag.
- Also, although the number of hair follicles is about the same in both genders, men have more sweat glands per hair follicle, contributing to more relaxed skin and therefore fewer wrinkles.
- Changes in the bones also contribute to more severe aging. As women age their jaw bone actually gets reabsorbed slowly so the bone shrinks down—the skin is going to get saggy because there’s no scaffolding holding it up!
- Women are more likely to drink through straws which promote lip wrinkles
- Many men shave, which exfoliates the skin and assists with skin turnover
Facial Acupuncture can regulate the body’s hormones and strengthen the organs, such as the kidneys, spleen and liver. Intradermal needles can be used to increase collagen. Facial cupping and Gua Sha can increase blood flow to the area and stimulate the sebaceous (sweat glands) to secrete more fluid and sebum. Microneedling with an AAC approved device such as an Aculift Derma Roller can stimulate collagen as well.
Acupuncture has been used for centuries to promote healthy skin. Get certified by an AAC certified CE provider. go to facialacupunctureclasses.com for videos and class info.
*study is published in the November-December issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal.
By Michelle Gellis, AP LAc MAc DiplAc.
Facial acupuncture classes … lots of folks are offering them these days.
The cost for typical 2-3 day facial acupuncture class can be substantial. Before you enroll, here are 10 things to consider before signing up for a facial acupuncture class:
Is the instructor certified by the American Acupuncture Council?
If AAC is your insurance company, you must be trained by an AAC certified instructor for coverage. You can contact AAC for the most current list. Even if AAC is not your insurance provider, you may switch in the future, and being trained by an AAC provider lends some credibility to your skills.
What is the average facial acupuncture class size?
If the teacher to student ratio is too large, you will not get the supervision necessary to monitor new skills being taught.
What are the instructor’s credentials?
What is their teaching experience, where, how long? Are they published? Is their degree in acupuncture or another field?
Is it a hands-on class?
You should be able to practice what you learn, with special emphasis on new techniques and skills.
Will supplies be provided or charged for separately?
There should be no hidden costs. Everything you need to practice in class should be supplied. Some instructors sell their own product lines or add-ons, and classes can become very ‘product centered.’
Is the system something that is easily learned?
Techniques that are complicated or overly time consuming are rarely implemented after you leave the class. Speak to folks who have studied with the instructor.
Is the class comprehensive?
Will you need to take a follow up or advanced class before you can practice the techniques?
How much time will there be to practice?
There should be ample time allotted to practice new skills.
What CEUs are attached to the class?
How many, and for which states.
What is the cancellation policy?
If you cannot attend, can you use the tuition towards another class in the future or is the money lost?
Michelle Gellis, AP, M.Ac, DiplAc., L.Ac has been teaching Facial Acupuncture classes since 2005. She is a Faculty Member and Clinic Supervisor at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She has been published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine, Acupuncture Today and The Acupuncture Desk Reference. To learn more about her classes, please visit our registration page.
By Michelle Gellis LAcMAcDiplAc
We tend to think of Acupuncture as something that can help with aches and pains. But what most people don’t know is that regular Acupuncture Facial Rejuvenation treatment can reverse aging, making you look and feel younger!
1) Stress Reduction
We all are exposed to stressful situations in our lives. When the stress is extreme, or if it lasts a long time, our physical health begins to suffer. Some common stress related illnesses are: irritable bowel syndrome, anxiety, depression, insomnia, hypertension, stroke, migraine, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and autoimmune diseases.
Acupuncture Facial Rejuvenation effectively treats stress to reverse aging by unblocking stuck energy and allowing it to flow properly throughout the body. As our tension is relieved, so are our symptoms. Acupuncture releases stress reducing, natural pain killing chemicals in the brain, called endorphins. The calming nature of acupuncture also decreases heart rate, lowers blood pressure and relaxes the muscles.
2) Improve sleep
Ruminating thoughts, hormonal imbalances, anxiety, depression, and overstimulation are a few of the reasons why we can have trouble sleeping at night. One of the immediate gifts of acupuncture is its ability to calm the mind, lift the spirit, reset our body clock and allow us to get our restorative “beauty sleep” — all elements that help reverse aging.
3) Younger Looking Skin
Celebrities such as Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Demi Moore, Angelina Jolie and Julianne Moore have used Acupuncture Facial Rejuvenation as a way to reverse aging and maintain and improve their appearances. Cosmetic Acupuncture represents natural method to promote youthfulness and enhance natural beauty and can take 5-10 years off the look of your skin.
Acupuncture facial rejuvenation requires no downtime and is safe and painless. As you age, the 57 muscles in your face gradually lose their tone causing the sagging, deep wrinkling and tired look associated with aging. Acupuncture stimulates the muscle function, and the face lifts itself; returning the face to a healthier, revitalized, and youthful appearance.
4) Better sex
Acupuncture can bring back the spark in your sex life too! The needles can help to allow for a smoother flow of energy and blood to the genital area, thereby increasing pleasure and desire. Additionally, acupuncture can balance your hormones back to a more youthful state, increasing estrogen and testosterone levels. This can result in a reduction in prostate enlargement, less vaginal dryness and many other benefits.
5) Reduce Pain
On a physical level acupuncture reduces pain by improving blood flow and releasing pain-relieving endorphins and serotonin. Pain that is chronic can be mentally and physically exhausting. Our emotions can wear us down, and cause us to be weak and unable to heal. It is impossible to effectively treat chronic conditions without addressing a person’s state of mind. Acupuncture addresses the negative emotions (such as anger, and fear), thereby decreasing stress hormones, which cause pain.
6) Stronger immune system
Acupuncture can help to naturally boost your immune system. Scientists have been able to determine that acupuncture enhances the production of natural killer cells, which is the primary defense mechanism against organisms that make us sick. It also regulates white blood cells directly linked to the fight against infections, allergic reactions, and even autoimmune disorders. Regular acupuncture treatments are a great preventative measure to ward off colds and flu.
7) More energy & vitality
Although the immediate effect of acupuncture treatment is very relaxing, the long-term effects are more energy, and vitality. The reason for this has to do with a concept in traditional Chinese medicine called Jing, the energy of the Kidneys. It is the power that keeps us going. How much Jing you have determines your energy levels, how you will age and how healthy you will be. If your kidney energy is deficient it can lead to premature aging, dried up wrinkled skin, and dark circles. Additionally it can affect your head hair and bones, so osteoporosis and premature greying are signs of kidney imbalances.
Acupuncture…anti-aging medicine for over 5,000 years.
If you’re a practitioner, visit my schedule of classes to find an acupuncture facial rejuvenation CEU class near you.
If you’re a patient who’d like to benefit from Acupuncture facial rejuvenation, contact me to schedule a session today.
By Michelle Gellis LAc MAc DiplAc
As a Five Element acupuncturist who teaches facial acupuncture classes nationally, I was surprised to learn that one of the basic principles I was taught in school is unfamiliar to most acupuncturists. Rooted in Five Element Theory, the practice of clearing blocks before initiating treatment is at the core of my facial acupuncture classes. A block is defined as a break in, or impediment to, the smooth flow of Qi. Blocks can prevent treatments from being effective or holding. They must be cleared in order for healing to take place.
There are several types of blocks. They can show up on the pulses as a disparity in the strength of one pulse in relation to another or in the strength of the left side pulses to the right. Other ways blocks can show up are in a patient’s affect, physical or emotional well-being, or appearance.
Blocks to treatment can take many forms. They can be energetic such as: Aggressive Energy, Pulse Qualities, and Entry/Exit. They can be Lifestyle blocks such as: Diet, relationships, and substance abuse. Some blocks are structural like a scar. Others blocks to treatment relate to a patients’ dependence on the illness for sympathy, or financial reasons.
Blocks vary in severity and significance. Some are dire and require immediate attention such as when the pulses on the right side are greater in quantity and quality then the left (referred to as an H/W), some are less severe and will show up from time to time, like a pulse quality or a spirit block.
One block that I address in every patient is Aggressive Energy (AE). It is created by toxic or polluted energy that moves along the K’O cycle. According to Five Element theory, Aggressive Energy is: “Qi which is contaminated and polluted and whose quality is poisonous and destructive.” AE will cause problems within the total energy of the body, mind and spirit (Worsley, 1990). AE must be cleared to prevent its spread to other officials during treatment, hence its clinical significance in Facial Acupuncture. AE can occur after surgery, emotional or physical illness or a variety of other conditions. It is drained through the Yin organs via the Back Shu points. The test for AE is also the treatment; there is no other way to diagnose with certainty that a patient has AE.
The image below shows a patient with AE. Needles are places in the Back shu points (BL13, 14, 15, 18 20, 23) and test needles are placed in each of the three Jiao, if the redness around the needles is different than the test needle, then AE is present and must be drained. If other more severe blocks (such as ID’s) are present, AE will not clear until the other blocks have been cleared.
Regardless of the nature and severity of the block, its presence will impede the rate of recovery and the effectiveness of any acupuncture treatment. Without this crucial piece, treatments can progress more slowly and not have as long lasting effect. Learning the theory and treatment of blocks and how they can impede facial rejuvenation and recovery from neuromuscular facial conditions are an integral part of my Facial Acupuncture classes. For more information go to: https://facialacupunctureclasses.com
The human face has 43 muscles, which work together to form facial expressions. Over time, these expressions get lodged in the connective tissue of the face causing fine lines, deep furrows, sagging skin and jowls. Facial rejuvenation acupuncture, facial cupping and facial gua sha (chinese massage) can release atrophied muscles and bring out the innate radiance in our skin.
We have all seen the affects of long-term illness; overwork or poor sleep on the face. The resultant tired eyes, poor skin color and lack of vibrancy in the skin are apparent. But what happens when someone is perpetually angry, sad or worried? The face is the repository of our emotions as well, and our habitual expressions will become part of our facial landscape. As an acupuncturist who specializes in facial acupuncture, I know first hand how 20 years of grief can manifest in someones face: a turned down mouth, deep lines between the eyebrows and grayish skin tone. In Chinese medicine we refer to this as a lack of “shen”.
A person’s shen is their spirit (in a nonreligious sense). When evaluating Shen, an acupuncturist is looking at your emotional state and presence (or lack) of radiance, calm, and balance. Facial rejuvenation acupuncture releases the signs of stuck emotions through points in the muscles, deep tissue massage, lymph drainage and body points which move stuck energy in the endocrine system (thyroid) and the entire body and balancing your hormones. An acupuncturist trained in facial acupuncture can erase years off your face and neck, and improve your pigmentation without the use of toxins, fillers, or surgery. The treatments are very relaxing; most of my patients fall asleep and feel calm and energized afterwards.
I have been going to Michelle for several months to fight the signs of aging. Michelle is absolutely by far the best! People keep asking me how I stay so young! I have tried several acupuncturists before but have never experienced such remarkable, extremely obvious results before Michelle. When people ask my age they think I am lying. They can’t believe I’m over 50. My skin looks and feels great, wrinkles are diminished, and my energy level is unbelievable. Michelle’s treatment area is very comfortable, professional and relaxing, not like most of the sterile type acupuncture environments. I highly recommend Michelle for facial rejuvenation, stress reduction, smoking cessation, and weight loss! Thanks Michelle!! You’re the best………….. Jenny Age 57