You know that saying, “Shangri La wasn’t built in a day”, well that not only applies to the beautiful paradise for which we create in our gardens, it also applies to our health – both on the inside and out. To attain good health takes persistence, takes patience, and takes time. It is the small efforts we make every day that add up to create good health. There really is no quick fix.
Nothing could be more true for our skin, as it is the daily elimination of negative habits combined with the addition of positive habits that lead to the solid foundation our skin desires. On a daily basis we need to do our best to limit stress, anger, sadness, junk food, and other negative habits, while at the same time incorporating healthy habits like positive thinking, relaxation, mindfulness, eating whole foods, and exercising. The health of our skin is largely a reflection of our whole bodies health, so it makes sense that we should strive to treat our body and mind with respect, lest we fall victim to disease.
In Chinese medicine we really only have 5 basic causes of disease,
- Excessive emotional factors
- Dietary abuse
- Environmental factors like too much cold, heat, wind, dampness, dryness, and toxicity
- Lack of movement, or exercise
- Our constitution, or our genetic makeup
By paying attention to our daily intake of positive and negative habits, we are helping to ward off a large percentage of the causes for disease.
Now if disease has already set in, then we still need to make the necessary changes to our daily routine, our daily habits, but we may also need medicine. If you continually drip oil over your white cotton shirt, avoiding the oil or wearing a bib, will not remove the oil stain. You need to use some strong detergent to remove that oil, actually you will probably need multiple washings with detergent to remove the oil stain, particularly if you have let it build up over a long time.
This is very true for our bodies. If our daily habits, practiced over a long period of time, are what created the health problems that we now face, merely changing our habits may not be good enough. We may need medicines, that work like “detergent”, to help dislodge the stuck byproducts of a life lived poorly. Focusing just on changing your diet, or thinking positively, or exercising may not be strong enough once disease has taken hold. We all need help from time to time, and is why Nature provided us with an abundance of medicines, which are to be consumed when needed, not on a day to day basis like we do with our food.
One of our earliest medical text books, the Huang Di Nei Jing Su Wen written around 200 b.c. or so, states,
“Toxic drugs attack evil; the five grains nourish; the five fruits support; the five animals provide; and the five vegetables fill.”
This 2000+ year old text refers to the use of drugs (herbal medicines) that are to be taken when disease takes hold. They are considered toxic because they are only to be used in times of illness, which is different to our food, which is to be taken everyday for nourishment. Toxic in this sense is used to separate out medicine from diet. We need medicine, above our daily intake of nourishing foods, when disease has become too stubborn.
So when we have adjusted our daily habits and we are consuming the proper medicine, then we wait for health to be achieved. As I wrote about in my article entitled ,“Slow and steady wins the race! The Chinese herbal treatment of psoriasis.”, real long lasting change comes about over time. Be patient. Be persistent. Eventually you may actually build that Shangri la within you, and that truly radiant skin you have always dreamed of may manifest.
Wishing you health,
Dr Trevor Erikson