Thursday, January 8, 2015

Chinese Medicine for Healthy Skin

Chinese Medicine for Healthy Skin by Michelle O'Shaughnessy, as the subtitle states, is a "Chinese Medicine Guide to Vibrant Skin, Ageless Beauty and Vitality."  Traditional Chinese medicine includes such practices as acupuncture, herbal remedies, and tai chi, and has been in use for centuries upon centuries.  In the world of what is considered Western culture, these practices are being used more and more, although I believe most people use them as complementary treatments to a more modern medical approach.

O'Shaugnessy is a Doctor of Oriental Medicine and owns a clinic in Orlando, Florida.  She also runs a website which sells herbal medicinal soups.


I received this as an ebook for review (quite a long time ago, I am sorry to say - I have a shameful backlog after being on the longest hiatus I ever hope to take from blogging), and I am glad that I was finally able to get around to reading it.  Prior to reading this, I didn't really know anything about traditional Chinese medicine apart from some VERY basic concepts.  I am, however, interested in holistic/herbal remedies for things.  Not being able to afford health insurance tends to make you more interested in finding ways to maintain your health and do what you can without racking up bills with a doctor.

So the title of this book specifies that the content will offer a guide to obtaining healthier skin through use of Chinese medicine, and that's exactly what O'Shaugnessy provides.  What surprised me, though, is that the nature of traditional Chinese medicine is such that the remedies actually target many other parts of the body as well; this is all because of the flow of energies that connects everything together, and in treating one area, you are also treating the directly related areas.  Chinese Medicine for Healthy Skin gives an excellent sort of crash course to all of this in the beginning chapters, discussing the history of Chinese medicine, as well as the concepts of qi (chee), yin and yang, and meridians.

Basically, Chinese medicine is about getting the energies of your body into harmony and keeping them that way - not treating one thing by substituting pain or discomfort for (potentially equally annoying) side effects.  

This is not to say that Western medicine is a bad thing, and pharmaceuticals will do more harm than good.  Not at all.  But O'Shaugnessy's book has made me think more about the benefit of trying alternative methods to healing before going straight for that bottle of Advil, for instance.  I also see the potential for a great benefit to overall health by supplementing what you already do with some of the things presented in this book (and others that you might find by further research).

The herbal soups in particular are something I am keen to try for myself.  I am already a great lover of soup and an advocate of soup as a natural remedy for common ailments like sore throats (southwest-style black bean soup works great for me in that instance).  While you can purchase these soups online through O'Shaugnessy's store, she provides recipes in the book, and some you can possibly also find ready-made at Asian markets.  I'm not familiar with many of the ingredients used, but there is a very large Asian population where I live, and there is no shortage of Asian markets.  Granted, it's more Vietnamese than Chinese, but many of the larger markets seem to cater to a more "pan-Asian" clientele, so I'm sure I would be able to find everything.  And let's be real...this is the age of the Internet, so a little web-searching would probably turn up someplace where you can order things online as well.

Acupuncture and facial massage are two things discussed in this book that I'm sure everyone is already familiar with to some extent, and while I have a pretty high chance of trying out the recommended facial massage, there is a less than 0% change of me ever trying acupuncture.  The benefits seem good, but I am absolutely terrified of needles, and the entire experience would likely stress me out to the point where it would defeat the entire purpose.  For those of you not in the same boat as me on this makes sense that this could be totally worth trying.  I never really got how it was supposed to work, but O'Shaugnessy explains it all clearly.

The book overall was worth the quick read - it felt largely like a very detailed outline more than anything else; the content is informative without reading like a textbook.  The only thing I would really change is that the format is a little off in the recipes section:  amounts for some ingredients seemed to be missing, for instance.  Of course, this may have been fixed by now, as it's been a little while since this version was emailed to me. 



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