When it comes to the health of your skin and and hair, it can be overwhelming to figure out which approach to take – should you visit a dermatologist for prescription medicine, or learn more towards natural or herbal remedies? Opt for the steroid cream or colloidal oatmeal? The accutane or more probiotics? In fact, does it even have to be an either/or situation or can both co-exist together?
This article will answer the question on the right approach to take for beauty, but first it’s important to understand some key differences between ‘Western’ or conventional medicine, and a more ‘Eastern’ or holistic medicine approach.
The Difference between Eastern and Western Medicine
Let’s say it right off the bat – both Western and Eastern medicine have their place and an important role in creating a healthy society. For example, when it comes to life-threatening, acute disease, Western medicine is critical. Eastern medicine, however, tends to be more effective for ongoing maintenance of health, in both a preventative fashion and to regain health and balance following a chronic illness.
Of course, both also come with their downsides – Western medicine is accused of symptom-suppression and strong side-effects of treatments and medications, whereas Eastern medicine is accused of not enough robust, scientific research to back its claims.
Let’s take an even closer look at some of the differences:
- How they look at the body.
Western medicine is very scientific, and looks at the body as individual and groups of muscles, ligaments, tendons, and organs. Doctors have a high level of understanding of each part of the body and what they do, and many take it a step further and specialize in certain areas, for example and endocrinologist who diagnoses and treats hormone related disorders, or a brain surgeon, who specializes in all things brain related.
Eastern medicinal practitioners, however, look at the body as a whole; one unit working together rather than a sum of parts. If you visit one of these practitioners complaining about migraines, they will most likely look over your whole body and ask you questions about your life and lifestyle instead of focusing primarily on where you are feeling pain.
- What they consider proof.
Western medicine is primarily centered around scientific facts, studies, and reviews. They conduct research, publish papers, and work tirelessly to quantify and prove that treatments are safe and that they work. They design and develop treatments and procedures to solve specific, acute problems.
Eastern medicine is less focused on scientific proof and more on what they have witnessed over the four thousand plus years of practicing, their understanding of the human body and how its different systems work together synergistically, how each patient is unique, and how environmental and life factors can cause changes within the body. Their focus is on the whole person, not the specific part of the body that is in distress.
- How they look at disease.
In western medicine, health and disease are considered two different entities, with a clear divide between the two. Doctors are trained to detect and treat disease in their acute phase.
Eastern medicine approaches disease as an unbalanced state, compared to health which is a balanced state. Their view is that each person is in a constant balance between external attacks and internal defence mechanisms, if the external outmatches the body’s ability to fight back, you are in a disease state. If the body is stronger than the external influences, the body will be balanced and in good health. While the West focuses on changing the environment, the East prefers to adapt to it.
The Optimal Approach For Beauty
Given that Eastern medicine focuses more on prevention, it stands to reason that it would be more beneficial for the ongoing health of our skin and hair; when you are healthy and balanced on the inside, you will look it on the outside. That being said, many of the preventative approaches mentioned by holistic practitioners, also overlap with that of Western medicine. There is always some overlap between the two approaches.
Below are some simple ways to incorporate the best of Eastern and Western medicine into your daily routine to achieve glowing skin and shiny hair, no matter what your age.
- Drink Green Tea
Green tea is rich in catechins, a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight and prevent cell damage. This not only helps to prevent diseases such as cancer, but it also helps fight the visible signs of aging and keeps your skin looking fresh.
Ginger is an incredible spice that stimulates circulation and blood flow throughout the body and improves your immune system. It also works well against the inflammation that causes much of the disease and aging that our society faces today. Ginger can be drank as a tea, blended into smoothies, and used for flavor in both cooking and baking.
- Recognize the need to protect yourself against the elements.
This includes sun, wind, and air pollution! Block the sun by using hats, umbrellas, and sunscreen, avoid highly polluted areas or wear a mask, and dress appropriately for the weather, covering up exposed skin during harsh, cold winters. This will keep your skin protected from damaging UV rays, drying winds, and from breathing in chemicals and pollutants that then circulate throughout your body.
- Exercise more and sit less.
Many of the countries where Eastern medicine is most widely practiced, driving places is far less efficient than walking or taking public transit. As a result, these cultures spend much more time walking and much less time sitting in traffic. While you may not live in a walk or cycle-friendly area or don’t have access to public transportation, you still need to move more. In addition to planned exercise each day (gym, home, or outdoor workouts), incorporate more walking and movement into your day, such as taking the stairs and going for lunchtime walks.
- Eat less sugar and processed foods.
In cultures that celebrate Eastern medicine the most, such as in China and Korea, post-meal dessert is usually nothing more than simple fresh fruit. No cookies, cakes, or ice creams, no processed, packaged, junk! Not only do these fresh fruits come with their own vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, but they don’t come with refined sugar and chemical additives that are bad for your body both internally and externally.
- Understand that your body is a working unit.
Everything in your body is working together to help you survive and thrive, if one area is off, the others will be, too. This means you must take care of yourself in all aspects of health. All the expensive skin creams in the world won’t make a difference in your complexion if you never eat vegetables or are consistently under-sleeping.
Unique Beauty Remedies Worth Trying!
Cabbage Leaves for Breastfeeding Moms
Simply peel a few layers of cabbage leaves and apply directly to the breast. This natural remedy is said to help relieve pain, inflammation, and irritation for breastfeeding mothers.
Sour Cream for Smooth Skin
For smooth and surprisingly soft skin, try applying cool sour cream to your hands and face. Rinse off after a few minutes and pat dry with a towel.
Egg Masks For Healthy Hair
Whip two or three eggs together in a bowl and apply to dry hair (with no other products in it). Smoothe the eggs over small sections of your hair, from root to ends and cover with a shower cap. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse out and shampoo and condition as normal. These egg masks are said to help prevent breakage, balance scalp oils, and condition your hair.
Sugaring For Hair Removal
Despite being a fairly recent trend in the West, sugaring as a method of hair removal has been around for millenia!
Washcloths for Healthy Skin
Swap your shower scrub for an old-fashioned washcloth. The texture is both gentler on your skin and more effective for exfoliating and removing dead skin cells (an important step in keeping your skin looking healthy and well-hydrated). Be sure to use a new washcloth every shower or bath.
Aromatherapy for Overall Beauty
Taking the time to de-stress is an important part of looking healthy. Try a relaxing aromatherapy massage with natural oils like coconut oil, jojoba oils, or almond oils as a carrier oil for relaxing essential oils.