Wrinkles and Age Spots: Secrets from the Empress

The Chinese healing tradition has specialized in age-defying skin solutions for thousands of years, starting with an Empress, 2,000 years ago, who knew that the key to her power was in a youthful appearance. These natural skin-beautifying secrets are revealed below: freedom from wrinkles, age spots, and uneven skin tone.

The origin of Chinese skincare secrets

It all began in the Imperial Court in China, 2,000 years ago. The Empress, in order to retain her power, was compelled to do everything possible to maintain her youthful appearance. She summoned the best physician of her time to design an anti-aging program to rejuvenate her and preserve her beauty. Her rejuvenating program was handed down through the ages, following the Chinese custom of the empress passing down to the princesses her skin-beautifying recipes and preparations. Here are but a few of the many beautifying secrets that still exist.

1. Keep your face toned with facial exercises

To tone up your facial muscles, try these facial exercises, twice a day, five repetitions apiece:

1. Raise your eyebrows as high as you can and then relax them.

2. Try to move your nose from side to side.

3. Inflate your cheeks as if you were blowing up a balloon, and then relax.

4. Open your mouth as wide as it can go, and stick out your tongue as far as you can. Hold for five seconds.

Finish up with a renewing facial massage. Using a circular motion, gently stroke your whole face to warm it up. Then with the thumb and first finger of both of your hands pinch five times along your eyebrow line, from inside to outside. Press along both sides of the nose, where it meets the cheeks, from top to bottom, five times. Press the area around the outside of the mouth five times. Lightly pat your cheeks with your fingers to stimulate the sides of your face. Press the lines on your forehead between your eyebrows five times. Now press the edges around your eye, being gentle above the eye and under its lower rim. Finish the massage with another round of circular strokes all around.

2. Secrets for supple skin from the sea

Your skin contains elastin and collagen, proteins that work to maintain its structure and pliability. As you get older your levels of important horomones decrease, contributing to a decline in proteins in the skin, which lessen its elasticity. One of the skin-beautifying recipes passed down by the empress to her princesses involves exotic ingredients, such as bird's nest, shark's fin, and sea cucumber. While the first two are extremely hard to come by, sea cucumber -- the sea animal and not the vegetable -- is somewhat accessible. A relative of the starfish, sea cucumber contains essential amino acids that are the building blocks of collagen and elastin; you can find it dried in Chinese food stores, ready to be used in soups. It is also available in supplement form. A usual daily dose would be 700 to 1,000 mg.

Another fellow sea creature, jellyfish, has long been considered a delicacy and a top nutrient for beautiful skin. While jellyfish is routinely served in Asian restaurants, you may not find the idea of eating it appealing; luckily it comes in supplement form, too. How does jellyfish give you age-defying skin? Jellyfish is full of a calcium-binding photoprotein called aequorin that helps keep cells healthy and structurally strong. Studies indicate that aequorin slows aging and prolongs the life of cells. Supplements containing these proteins have been found to reduce cell death by up to 50 percent. Aequorin is found in select health food stores and online, and a typical dosage would be 10-30 mg daily.

3. Diminish age spots

Age spots, sun spots, liver spots, freckles, and skin blotches exist on the topmost layer of your skin, called the basal cell layer. The hormone melanin, which is responsible for your natural skin tone, increases production to protect you from sun exposure; however, when too much pigment is produced, unwanted discolorations can result. Unlike Western medicine, which might use lasers and dermabrasion to remove these discolorations, traditional Chinese practice has always observed that one must treat the underlying cause of excess pigment deposit. Melanin is produced by special skin cells called melanocytes that are triggered by hormonal signals; because Chinese medicine regards the hormonal system as part of the kidneys organ network, these skin spots reflect a kidney imbalance. You can rely on foods, herbs and supplements to effectively restore the healthy function of your kidneys:

• Eat more black beans, sesame seeds, and mulberries.

• Helpful Chinese herbal combinations include Chinese yam, Asian cornelian fruit, and goji or lycium berry.

• Alpha-lipoic acid, acetyl-L-carnitine, and quercetin are helpful supplements that help the skin regenerate and remove pigment deposits.

• DMAE (dimethyl-amino-ethanol), a nutrient found in anchovies and sardines, is a powerful membrane stabilizer that reverses age spots on the skin.

4. Herbs to cleanse and nourish your complexion

The process of skin aging is hastened by the environmental toxins we come in contact with, ranging from pollution to pesticides to preservatives in our food. The skin is your body's largest elimination organ, but can become overloaded and unable to expel the toxins. A fundamental principle of Chinese medicine is that you help the body cleanse itself so that toxins do not cause internal imbalance, which shows up on your skin as premature aging. Traditional herbs and foods that are used to help your body eliminate toxins include seaweed, bitter melon, Chinese cucumber, burdock, lotus root, and ginger. Try to include one of these in your diet every day.

Herbs that detoxify the system can be found in a formula called Internal Cleanse, which contains dandelion, chrysanthemum, peppermint, white mulberry, and licorice, which assist and support healthy liver and gall bladder function.

These, and many other skin-beautifying secrets are in my book Second Spring: Hundred's of Natural Secrets for Women to Revitalize and Regenerate at Any Age. 

I hope this advice gives you the secrets you need to rejuvenate your skin! I invite you to visit often and share your own personal health and longevity tips with me.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

-Dr. Mao


This blog is meant to educate, but it should not be used as a substitute for personal medical advice. The reader should consult his or her physician or clinician for specific information concerning specific medical conditions. While all reasonable efforts have been made to ensure that all information presented is accurate, as research and development in the medical field is ongoing, it is possible that new findings may supersede some data presented.

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