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Key Learning Points
Eye Bags are a puffiness, mild swelling or oedema in the area of your face right under your eyes.
They range in colour from pale to dark, and if dark, they can look like dark rings, which you can hide behind dark glasses.
What do Eye Bags mean and what can you do about them?
It turns out that Chinese medicine can explain a good deal about bags under the eyes.
Once you grasp the underlying theory, you can probably work out what you’ve been doing wrong. Then you can change it.
But … a word of warning. Bar surgery and/or massive amounts of makeup, getting rid of bags under the eyes the ‘natural’ way takes a while. You’re going to have to do some healthy living.
But, trust me, you’ll feel better for it!
By the way … Puffy Eyes? …
If you’re worried about having puffy eyes – swollen eyelids, the rest of this page on bags under eyes isn’t going to be much use to you. The causes of puffy eyelids are different, though having bags under the eyes won’t help.
If your puffy eyes came suddenly, and they’re red and itchy, and you’ve got a cough and sore throat, look up Wind-Heat for a likely cause.
If puffy eyes came on slowly with gradual eyelid swelling, with you feeling cold and your chest feeling heavy, probably with a wet cough, then more likely you have a form of Cold Phlegm.
If your face, lips and swollen eyelids look red and dry, you’re much hungrier than usual and may even have burning pain in your stomach, then it could be Spleen Heat – which I don’t have a page on yet!
There are other possibilities too, however. All part of TCM theory.
What about Dark Circles under your Eyes?
Well, cheer up, the rest of this page probably does apply to you! Although some people get dark circles under their eyes owing to some form of over-sensitivity or even an allergy that you should identify. But in any case, the rest of this page will almost certainly still apply, sooner or later.
Over several thousand years, Chinese medicine has noticed that certain bits of our anatomy relate to each other in ways that don’t, on the face of it, make sense.
For example, if you said to a practitioner of Chinese medicine: “eye problems, IBS, and irritability?” he or she would probably instinctively suspect that your Liver energy was faulty. Of course, this would be a first reaction, possibly wrong on further discussion, but still, often useful.
If you said, what about “knee pain, back pain and tinnitus – noises in the ears?” it’s the Kidney energy that comes up. And under Kidney energy, you could add bags under the eyes.
Not that everyone with Kidney energy problems gets bags under the eyes or course (note the capital ‘K’ in Kidney to differentiate it from the organ, ‘k’ for kidney organ) . They might be due to something else. But as a general rule, Kidney energy problems often manifest here.
If you’re new to Chinese medicine, getting your head round a different way of thinking takes a while. Of course the ancient Chinese did understand pretty well what the kidney organs (most people have two kidneys) do.
But their thinking went much further.
The ancient Chinese practitioners thought that your Kidneys acted like a repository for templates for you and your body. In a way, this is your inherited know-how, including genetic know-how.
They also thought you had a large, but limited, amount of energy behind it. (You can read more about this concept under Jing.)
This energy got used up, for example:
As it gets used up certain Kidney ‘deficiency’ signs accumulate. One of these can be bags under the eyes.
You may find this a bit old-fashioned. After all, in the modern 24-hour world, aren’t we all free, or at least more free, than our ancestors?
They mostly lacked good light at night, so they slept.
They could only travel comparatively short distances in a day, so had no problems with time zone travel.
Thing is, activities which often separate you from these age-old living patterns of behaviour can lead to Kidney problems – eventually.
“Yes, but WHY?” I hear someone at the back of the class keep saying.
Well, time for an analogy, which may satisfy some people and bore others.
Suppose you have an old grandfather clock (OK, it could be a grandmother clock, I really don’t mind!) which has been beautifully serviced, oiled and maintained for hundreds of years and, importantly, keeps good time as long as it’s kept still, in the same corner, out of the way of wayward drafts of cold or hot air. And of course, assume it is wound up correctly every seventh day at the same time.
Now, I’m not a clocksmith but if you look after it properly, there’s little reason why it should fail to keep good time for you and your heirs just as it has for your grandparents and their forbears.
So then, perhaps your beautiful old clock will start to misbehave!
You’ll probably need a highly skilled clock smith to persuade it back to normality once you put it back in its comfortable old corner.
So … you could say that your inherited know-how cannot be messed with indefinitely without there being consequences, some of them tiresome.
… are your body’s way of showing that you are exceeding its design parameters. Although most people have lots of spare capacity for absorbing bad habits, there comes a point when the system complains, and eye-bags are one way to show you are pushing your luck.
Of course nobody is suggesting that the odd night out or emergency is going to skew your Kidneys or lead straight to bags under the eyes! Probably a million years or so have gone into evolving your Kidney energy, what with the worms, Neanderthals and humans. So the occasional disturbance is probably even good for you.
But not if ongoing, such as:
Each of us being different, this is harder to diagnose.
But most people know when they’ve overdone it. Whereas a good night’s sleep will put you back together after a big effort, when you’ve overdone it, sleep is not enough: you may need quite a long period of rest and possibly help to recuperate properly.
Unfortunately, many modern drugs, including coffee, can hide this.
Have you looked seriously at your hard coffee-drinking friends who work all hours in a coffee-fuelled ferment?
Image by rawpixel from Pixabay
They could probably work long hours without coffee, but as they know, coffee ‘wires’ them to higher levels of productivity, or so it seems.
From the point of view of Chinese medicine, coffee seems to stimulate yang energy, especially Kidney Yang energy. The problem is that in boosting yang, you use up yin. (Read more about yin and yang here.)
Then you become yin deficient, especially Kidney Yin deficient. That makes it harder to concentrate, to sleep, to relax, to settle.
You become more restless and frazzled, and probably more irritable.
Then you start getting headaches caused by yin deficiency, and so on. But by now you almost certainly have bags under your eyes!
But, as a quick summary, poor dietary habits include:
Hullo – bags under the eyes!
So, is there a quick fix? you ask, what about colloid, retinol, caffeine soaks, chocolate, green tea, grapeseed oil and vitamin C (just for starters!)? And micro-surgery?
I doubt I can cover everything but let’s try:
GET MORE SLEEP!