The Modern Vital Podcast

Unlocking Radiant Skin: Chinese Medicine Secrets for Environmental Detox and Natural Glow

June 08, 2023 Ben Reebs Season 1 Episode 15
The Modern Vital Podcast
Unlocking Radiant Skin: Chinese Medicine Secrets for Environmental Detox and Natural Glow
Show Notes Transcript

In this video-audio interview with Dr. Reebs on the Modern Vital Podcast, cosmetic and dermatological acupuncturists Vanessa Logan and Courtney Aldrich from LAD Labs Acupuncture and Dermatology share their expertise on approaching skin care from a Chinese medicine perspective. They discuss their journey into the field and their passion for helping patients regain confidence and connection with their bodies. Their thorough intake process considers emotional, dietary, and lifestyle factors to identify the root causes of skin conditions.

Vanessa and Courtney explain the Chinese medicine approach to skin health, where the skin reflects the overall health of the organ systems. They delve into the connections between the lungs, liver, and blood, emphasizing the importance of considering emotional components and addressing the underlying organ imbalances. They highlight the significance of a holistic treatment plan that incorporates diet, lifestyle modifications, herbs, and acupuncture to promote healing and restore balance.

Throughout the interview, they address the impact of external factors such as environmental toxins and travel on the skin. They also discuss the benefits of cosmetic acupuncture, gua sha, and cupping in improving skin health and combating signs of aging. Vanessa and Courtney's unique blend of traditional Chinese medicine and modern biomedical practices offers a comprehensive and individualized approach to dermatology and cosmetic acupuncture, helping patients achieve healthy, vibrant skin from the inside out.

If you're looking to dive deeper into understanding the intricacies of chronic disease and its impact on your overall well-being, consider checking out Dr. Reebs' book, "The Serpent & The Butterfly: The Seven Laws of Healing." In this book, he discusses the laws of healing essential to resolving chronic disease and much more to help you on your journey to optimal wellness. Click here to purchase your copy: https://modernvital.com/products/the-serpent-and-the-butterfly-the-seven-laws-of-healing

Additionally, if you're interested in a supplement designed to directly support your digestion, we recommend trying Digest: Gentian & Skullcap Capsules. These capsules are formulated with natural ingredients that can help improve and support overall digestive health. To learn more and purchase, visit: https://modernvital.com/products/modern-vital-digest-gentian-and-skullcap-capsules

Also, we have Modern Vital store where you can purchase our supplements, books, and learn about MVP90™, which serves as your comprehensive roadmap, empowering you to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit over a transformative 90-day period:
https://modernvital.com/

Thank you for joining us on The Modern Vital Podcast. Your support means the world to us, and we hope you continue to find value in the information we provide. Please remember to subscribe, leave a review, and share our podcast with others who might benefit from this content. Until next time, stay informed and proactive in your pursuit of health and wellness!

Dr. Ben: On today's episode of The Modern Vital Podcast, we're going to talk about our body's largest organ, the skin, and how to approach it from a Chinese medicine perspective. And today's special guests are cosmetic and dermatological acupuncturists Vanessa Logan and Courtney Aldrich, who own LAD Labs Dermatology and Cosmetic Acupuncture in Tualatin, Oregon, just outside of Portland.

And they provide healthy, safe, non-invasive skin care and help to reverse the signs of aging and heal the skin, blending the traditional modalities of Chinese medicine along with integrative, modern biomedical practices. And they both received their master's degrees in acupuncture and Chinese medicine from Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, also known as OCOM, the top school in the country.

Welcome, Vanessa and Courtney.

Courtney: Hi, thank you for having us.

Dr. Ben: It's so great to have you, so I have to ask this question. It's kind of where I usually start. I want to hear a little bit about your stories in terms of how you found yourselves working with dermatology and Chinese medicine.

Vanessa: Yeah, that's a great question. I think at least I'll speak for myself and say that I was always interested in the skin and I wasn't sure whether I was going to go into Eastern medicine or naturopathic medicine. Ended up finding my way into Eastern medicine, really for the herbs, thinking I'm going to specialize in skin. Found cosmetic acupuncture along the way and stumbled into Courtney here. And she had the same interest and it's just really rare in our fields, pretty niche, not a lot of people do it, so we just kind of bonded over that right away.

Courtney: Yeah, and I think my story is very similar in that, you know, helping people reconnect back into their bodies, where, with the skin, what's happening on the inside is generally always reflecting on the outside, so giving people the ability to regain that confidence and connection back into their body. So, yeah, it was nice to find Vanessa in grad school and we have a similar approach in wanting to care for patients and help them attain their outcomes.

Dr. Ben: Well, that's really awesome. I was so excited to reach out to you and get you on the show because I don't know anyone else doing cosmetic acupuncture and dermatology in the world really. And you know, in naturopathic medicine we've got the emunctories. It's called emuncturology, where there are five main ways the body detoxifies, and you know it's the skin, the liver, the kidneys, the gut and one other…I'm forgetting it right now…the lungs, actually. And I feel like you know Chinese medicine really has a profound understanding. I know very little about Chinese medicine, but it has such a profound understanding of different energies in the body and how they impact the skin. So I'd love to hear about the skin from a Chinese medicine perspective.

Vanessa: Yeah, I mean, I think In Chinese medicine we look at the skin also through the lens of biomedicine. That is our biggest organ and it really reflects what's going on in the rest of the organ systems. So it's interesting that that's the way that you look at detoxing. I think most of those organs, besides the large intestine, we would consider part of the Zang organ system and those are largely related to the skin. So there's a lot of pathways there. And I feel that the skin really is connected to all of them. So we kind of have to look at the whole organ system.

The lungs are kind of the obvious one, I think, because in Chinese medicine it controls the skin And so that's I guess the most obvious sort of organ system skin connection. But really I think in practice we see a lot more with the liver per se because of its connection to the blood and detoxing, and so much of what shows up on the skin is related to the blood. So, I think you know, and the gut, the large intestine, the lung have a relationship together. So these are all kind of the same things that we look at when we're looking at the skin.

Courtney: Yeah, and then, along with the liver and the blood, there's an emotional component that we almost always see and address with our clients.

Yeah, I think in Chinese medicine the emotions are stored in the Zang organs, also. So we see that pretty frequently. I'm not going to say it's 100% of the time, but a lot of times there is an emotional component, with sort of that beginning phase when we start to see something on the skin manifest, and then also sort of in chronic situations.

Dr. Ben: Wow, that's so powerful. So you're saying that when you're looking at like rosacea or psoriasis or acne or eczema, you're immediately looking at the emotional components and you're looking at the organs behind the scenes. I mean, how do you start from there? How do you dig in? Can you walk us through a little bit behind the scenes?

Vanessa: Yeah, I mean, I think we're initially looking at what we see on the surface of the skin, so color, texture, what sort of lesions we see, is it pustules, vesicles, is it macules or papules? And that allows us to kind of know, is there a damp component, is it a heat component, like you know? Is there lichenification, is there scaling? So that gives us a hint, I mean, more than a hint, but a good idea of kind of what's going on at different levels in the body and then which organs are associated with that. Sometimes we see things like maybe we have an acne patient and they only break out, you know, along the jawline in the chin, and we know that's connected with hormones and that relates to the kidney, so we can immediately go there. Same with maybe we're treating like periocular dermatitis, and we know the eyes relate to the liver. So often there's like a liver component. So there's a lot of things that hint to add specific organ systems.

Courtney: And then we'll kind of delve deeper into our questioning about what was happening during a time of your life when you started seeing these skin eruptions. Was there an emotional component? Was there a dietary something that happened in your life? So we'll kind of try to get down these worm holes of what was happening when you started experiencing the skin condition, and a lot of the times it is that there is an emotional component.

Vanessa: Yeah, the death of a family member or like somebody they care about, or some sort of traumatic incident or stress or work major stress or something like that seems to kind of trigger that change in the body, where then it expresses on the skin, and I think that actually aligns pretty well even with biomedicine. But a lot of times you see something happens and that gene is turned on.

Dr. Ben: So you know how we talk about toxic burden and obviously there's an emotional, spiritual, mental component, as well as persistent organic pollutants and toxic metals and chemicals. How does that overlay with what you're doing? I mean, how does that affect the elements or dampness, coolness, these kinds of things? How do you tease that out if a person has, let's say, arsenic toxicity, because they maybe they ate a bunch of chicken or seaweed or something that had arsenic in it and then they end up with a rash that's playing into an already existent eczema or something. Am I overthinking it?

Vanessa: No, you know it's complicated and I think it's just kind of part of the process. We have a very thorough intake process, and then it continues every time we see the patient. We're doing regular check-ins with them to kind of track progress and track changes. We cover…dietary is a huge aspect of that lifestyle, and you know medical history, family history. So we're trying to look at all of the dimensions and then see kind of as they progress, if things aren't changing, okay, what are you doing in your life? Have you made any changes? Have you not made?

We are trying to check all those lifestyle factors and see what might be exacerbating the issue, Why we're potentially not seeing a change that we want to see, and then ultimately, I think, utilizing the tools we have at our disposal to counteract whatever's going on, even if we don't know exactly what the answer is. So sometimes we, I mean, often like, talk about like atopic dermatitis. We don't know a lot of times what the cause is, and we'll go over common things and kind of check in with them. What's your skincare routine? What kind of things are you exposed to? Allergies? You know, but sometimes we just don't know.

Courtney: Yeah, and often times medication, side effects, travel to a damp, warm climate where the body's not used to food, environmental factors. Then they come home, whether it's a parasite or a fungus that their body's not able to fight.

So. Yeah, delving down into those questions again.

Vanessa: Yeah, so I think we're always trying to suss out what's going on. Obviously, if we can, that helps us in our process, but we're not dependent on that. I guess I feel like our medicine kind of…we can cover that, even if we don't have the exact answer of what's causing it.

Dr. Ben: So in the case where you talked about the rash that was kind of on the jaw and knowing that that's kind of like there's a kidney component there perhaps, or likely, if you work with kidney meridians, like in the ears or just throughout the body, do you sometimes see then an improvement in that just with your holistic plan, or how do you go about approaching that?

Vanessa: Yeah, I would say with the skin. it's not always directly related to the channel, but we always check that. And a lot of times, like in the ears, because it is a microsystem, we'll see signs that show up, whether it's little spots or bumps, or I mean there's a lot of different things you can look at. And I think we always check these two as a way of, I guess, confirming our diagnosis. So we want to see from multiple angles. I guess you'd say that we've chosen the right diagnosis.

Dr. Ben: So can you give maybe a couple practical tips, a couple pearls, so to speak, about how one can approach their skin from this other way and maybe improve whatever they've got going on, or where to start?

Courtney: Yeah. So I think always looking at diet and lifestyle first, because that's something that's relatively easy and accessible for someone to make modifications. So, paying attention to what one eats, if there are things that trigger an acne outbreak or a rash, so just helping the patient reconnect and understand what they're putting in their body, makes a big difference. 

Sleep. It's when our body prepares itself, so healthy sleep habits. Keeping the stress down. Finding something that you enjoy, things that bring joy. That helps with the emotional component.

Vanessa: There's definitely I think that's really common food things that probably, across the board, anyone who's studied nutrition is going to understand, and so usually we'll start with dairy, sugar, processed foods, things like that, trying to pick those out and fill up that space with colorful fruits and vegetables and things like that. I think If we're talking specifically like in Chinese medicine, that's maybe like harder to address for somebody just at home who doesn't really have the knowledge there.

You know, if we have a consultation with someone, we can direct them on some food choices. Or, you know, like we always try to avoid, like, iced drinks and beverages, drinking more room temperature or warm things, like not eating as much raw food, eating more cooked food, so things that are easier on your system and help you process better.

Courtney: Yeah, like if a patient has acne lesions that show signs of dampness, so if they're fluid filled that person might be a little more prone to damp. So then if they're in turn living in a climate, kind of like the Pacific Northwest, where it already is damp, and then you're eating damp foods, like dairy, that's gonna just perpetuate kind of what is already a pathogen in the body. So, we wanna help a patient understand how to kind of reduce the dampness in their body just on their own with their diet and lifestyle, and then we can further help with herbs and acupuncture.

Dr. Ben: So if somebody wasn't to do you know the work, like you know, change their diet, et cetera, and let's say they just came to you and they got some gua sha and some needles put into certain points and maybe I don't know in an emollient of some kind, are they still gonna see some results? Or would you say that it's just tip of the iceberg, kind of thing?

Vanessa: I think it depends on the severity of their condition. So I feel like cupping and gua sha, needles, that's always gonna be, or 99% of the time. Maybe there's a few patients who that's not the right course of action for, but in general they're gonna see benefits from that. But then there are things that have to be discussed, like if we have an acne patient with active lesions, I don't want them doing cupping a gua sha on their face because that's likely gonna spread bacteria.

So, you know it's a process and it's really individual to each patient, but I do think there's kind of general care stuff. We always encourage our patients to take gua sha tools home, do some work on their skin. Just even if it's five minutes sitting from the TV and you just do a little bit, you know all of that builds up over time. Acupuncture is gonna be beneficial, no matter what I mean. even if you just look at it as simply like an anti-inflammatory treatment, it is gonna have benefits. Even if I put all the needles in the wrong points, you're gonna get some benefit from that.

Dr. Ben: Can you explain what gua sha is for those who don't know?

Vanessa: Yeah, it's a traditional scraping method. You'll see it in a lot of cultures. That sounds weird, but you take a stone or metal, a spoon even, and you, with some pressure you're gonna kind of drag it across the skin. Facial gua sha is different than body gua sha. So on the body that's a more sort of aggressive scraping technique that lifts what we call sha from underneath and that's stagnant chi and blood, so it can look a little bit like a bruise. But it's actually not a bruise. That kind of comes to the surface, on the face. We don't really want people walking out with bruised looking faces, so it's a much gentler approach.

Same with cupping. I'll sometimes feel like, oh, I'm just imagining those cupping marks all over my face. Don't worry, you won't have that. So gua sha, I think, on the face, there's a lot of benefits, but certainly one of the best known ones is lymphatic drainage. But it's a method of kind of taking that stone or tool and creating sort of stretch and tension with the skin and moving the chi, moving the fluids in a direction that you choose.

Courtney: Yeah, and I think both body and facial cupping and gua sha, we're really trying to loosen the muscles. So in the neck or shoulders, the body, with gua sha and cupping, we're breaking adhesions, we're kind of creating space within the tissue, and then in the face we're for anti-aging purposes and lymphatic drainage, we're wanting to loosen up muscles that are always being activated and for lifting and fine lines, we want all of those muscles to be loose and not tight.

Dr. Ben: And then when you're doing cosmetic acupuncture, are you mostly working on the face or are you doing the whole body or the ears, and it just depends on the person?

Vanessa: All of it, yeah, if you almost always start with the ears and then you get a body treatment and then we finish with the face, so it is a full, full treatment.

Courtney: Yeah, so we want to address the constitutional issues that are causing whatever the concern is of the patient, so constitutionally treat them and then go in and target then those areas of concern.

Dr. Ben: Yeah. Well, thanks so much for joining me today. I'd love to hear where people can find you. How can people reach out and contact you?

Vanessa: Yeah, well, we're located in Tualatin and then we also take appointments by phone. We have a website, it's just lablabsdermatology.com, and you can book appointments through there. We also do free consultations, and there's all the information, all our pricing, our treatments are there. So that's an easy way. Yeah and then on social media. We're on Instagram at lab underscore labs and same with Facebook, so we respond to patient questions and queries both from social media and our website.

Dr. Ben: Well, thanks so much for joining me. That concludes this episode of The Modern Vital Podcast. We'd love to hear from you. We value your feedback. If you have any questions or suggestions, please reach out to me at ben@modernvital.com. Also, please leave us a review if you enjoyed this episode, and we look forward to having you join us next week for another exciting episode of The Modern Vital Podcast.

If you're looking to dive deeper into understanding the intricacies of chronic disease and its impact on your overall well-being, consider checking out Dr. Reebs' book, "The Serpent & The Butterfly: The Seven Laws of Healing." In this book, he discusses the laws of healing essential to resolving chronic disease and much more to help you on your journey to optimal wellness. Click here to purchase your copy: https://modernvital.com/products/the-serpent-and-the-butterfly-the-seven-laws-of-healing

Additionally, if you're interested in a supplement designed to directly support your digestion, we recommend trying Digest: Gentian & Skullcap Capsules. These capsules are formulated with natural ingredients that can help improve and support overall digestive health. To learn more and purchase, visit: https://modernvital.com/products/modern-vital-digest-gentian-and-skullcap-capsules

Also, we have Modern Vital store where you can purchase our supplements, books, and learn about MVP90™, which serves as your comprehensive roadmap, empowering you to rejuvenate your mind, body, and spirit over a transformative 90-day period:
https://modernvital.com/

Thank you for joining us on The Modern Vital Podcast. Your support means the world to us, and we hope you continue to find value in the information we provide. Please remember to subscribe, leave a review, and share our podcast with others who might benefit from this content. Until next time, stay informed and proactive in your pursuit of health and wellness!