How to protect your skin in summer
The skin is the largest organ in the body. In Chinese medicine it has several functions, which are:
- Covering the flesh to protect the sinews and bones.
- Governing the drainage of body fluids, maintaining the correct level of sweating through the pores to allow the body’s metabolism to function correctly.
- Maintaining the normal activities in the body and protecting the organs by acting as a barrier to prevent the invasion of external pathogens such as wind, cold, heat and dampness.
The internal organs and the skin have a very close relationship. The most important organs involved in the skin’s condition are the heart, lungs, spleen and kidneys. Each of these organs affect the skin in various ways depending upon their functions in the body as follows:
The heart governs the blood vessels and has its bloom in the face. If the heart Qi is sufficient there will be normal movement of blood in the vessels to supply the skin, resulting in a lustrous face with moist and soft skin. If the heart Qi or blood is weak the face will be dull or pale, there can be other related symptoms such as palpitations, emotional problems and mouth ulcers.
The lungs control the skin and hair and disperse defensive Qi and body fluids all over the body. The defensive Qi warms the skin and muscles and protects the body from invasion of pathogens from the exterior. If the lungs are functioning normally, the skin and hair can be nourished, resulting in shiny hair and skin that is dense and moist. If not, the result can be dry and rough skin, dry and withered hair and a low immune system where it is easy to catch colds and flu.
Spleen and Stomach
The spleen and stomach have the very important job of transforming and transporting the nutrients and waste from the food and fluids we consume to the appropriate places in our body. If the spleen and stomach are weak they will not be able to supply sufficient nutrients and will result in a depletion of Qi and blood. The results of a weakened spleen and stomach can be indigestion, lack of energy, inability to gain weight and because of an inability to provide nutrients to the legs, dry and scaly legs.
The kidneys store the very important Essence in our bodies. The Essence is inherited from our parents and also extracted from the food we eat to promote the growth of the body. The kidneys also store Yin (water) and govern body fluids which nourish the organs, skin and hair. The moisture of the skin depends on the normal metabolism of the body fluids in the kidneys. During summer the kidney Yin can be affected by the heat which dries the fluids and can result in symptoms such as excessive thirst, frequent urination, lower back pain, dry skin and tinnitus.
As the body is easily affected by changing climates and seasons it is important to know how to maintain good health during these times to prevent any disease from occurring.
In summer, the heart and lungs are the organs most vulnerable. The heat and dryness of the season can cause the body to accumulate too much heat and dry up the body fluids.
It is important to ensure that during summer foods should be eaten which generate fluids and cool the body. The skin should be protected from any over exposure to the sun and an adequate amount of water should be consumed to prevent dehydration.