In many medical and alternative healing traditions, face reading is an important diagnostic tool. Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), as well as Western medicine recognize that the face can display the health of internal organs. By observing a patient’s face, a skilled practitioner can begin to understand what imbalances a patient may be experiencing internally and what may be needed to achieve healing. In other words, face reading makes the connection between problems presenting on the face with overall health. There are many forms of face reading; this article will outline methods I use in my naturopathic medical practice that combine both Eastern and Western medical philosophies. Here are a few key areas I assess and what symptoms in these areas may indicate:
This area may be connected to digestion in the small intestine. Blemishes or bumps here may be related to the small intestine maldigestion; the small intestine is where we absorb many essential nutrients, and if we are seeing issues over the forehead I typically consider supporting this vital organ to digest and assimilate nutrients. Sleep deprivation and unmanaged stress can also manifest on the forehead. From an emotional perspective, premature or excess fine lines and wrinkles here can also indicate fearfulness and stress as a dominant emotional state. Note though, fine lines and wrinkles are natural as we age, they do not always have an emotional meaning or indicate a deep imbalance.
Between the Brows
In TCM, this area is related to the liver and the liver is also represented over the temples. The liver is our master detoxifier, filtering over 1.5L of blood per minute. Everything we take in from medications, foods, to environmental toxins is filtered by the liver. This organ balances hormones and plays a role in cholesterol as well. Bumps or breakouts here may be related to sluggish liver function or an overburdened liver. The liver is taxed by poor diet and lifestyle factors. Furthermore, when we see deep vertical lines here between the brows, this may suggest excess anger (the emotion that is related to the liver in TCM).
The Eye Area
Under-eye darkness or puffiness can be related to sluggish kidneys. The kidneys are organs that assist in detoxifying and balancing the body’s electrolytes which are necessary in every function of the body. The kidneys can be depleted by excess stress and burnout, which can show-up under the eyes. Fine lines around the eyes, depending on the direction, can also indicate certain emotional patterns like happiness/joy or sadness. In western medicine, darkness under the eyes may also indicate iron or other nutrient deficiencies.
This area primarily relates to the stomach and lungs in TCM. Irritation, redness or broken capillaries in this area may be related to poor digestion in the stomach (maybe too much or too little stomach acid). Depending on how the skin symptoms manifest in this area, it may be more related to the lungs which are connected to immunity. Allergies or immune dysfunction may present along the cheeks. For example, in Western Medicine what we refer to as a “butterfly rash” over the cheeks can be a symptom of auto-immune disease when taken in context with other symptoms and diagnostic testing.
Redness and broken capillaries on the nose can indicate cardiovascular issues like high blood pressure or heart disease. It can also suggest high inflammation overall and/or excess alcohol consumption. Nasolabial Folds This area represents the large intestine, an important organ of elimination. When we are not experiencing regular or healthy bowel movements, are eating poorly, or have high general inflammation, this area may appear red, darkened, or we may see the folds in this area deepening. Sometimes we may see cystic breakouts in this area, particularly where the nasolabial fold extends down along the sides of the chin. This may be related to poor elimination and a resultant hormonal imbalance. Furthermore, this area is related to the lungs and grief in TCM. Downturned lips and deep nasolabial folds may indicate excess sadness.
Jawline and Chin
The chin in particular is related to the reproductive system. If we see breakouts or rashes here, it may indicate a sex hormone imbalance. The most common one I see in practice is cystic acne in this area related to high levels of androgens (like testosterone) in women.
Remember - nothing is to be taken in isolation. Everything is connected and context is key. In addition, sometimes things happen as a result of life and age. Not everything has a particular meaning. You must consider the body as a whole before honing in on one problem area. As always, seek the guidance of a licensed MD, ND or functional medical practitioner for individualised care.