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Dr. Mao’s Secrets of Longevity: Under-Eye Dark Circles:

Dr. Maoshing Ni (Dr. Mao) is a bestselling author, professor, and Doctor of Chinese Medicine. He directs a wellness center with a team of associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica. For more information, go to TaoOfWellness.com or email at contact@taoofwellness.com

Nothing says exhaustion and strain like dark circles under your eyes. The problem is, you may be getting plenty of sleep every night and still wake up with puffy raccoon eyes. Now what? Read on to find out why you get under-eye circles and how to reduce their appearance or get rid of them altogether.

Causes of Dark Circles

Dark circles are often a heredity trait. The skin around our eyes is the most delicate and thinnest skin in the body. Dark circles under the eyes are blood vessels that can be seen through the skin, producing the bluish tint.

Allergies are another common cause of dark circles. When you rub and scratch your itchy eyes, it irritates the skin and can break tiny capillaries beneath the skin, causing puffiness and discoloration. If allergies are the root of your problem, simply treat them or avoid what you’re allergic to. If your dark circles or puffiness are constant, you may have an undetected food allergy or an allergy to a chemical in your surroundings. Consult an allergist to determine what you may be allergic to.

Chinese medicine considers dark circles as a sign of weakness in the kidney network. Kidney weakness is due to exhaustion and overstrain coupled with lack of rest and relaxation. Since the kidney network in Chinese medicine governs the hormonal system, it affects the pigment melanin. It is said that unhealthy and depleted kidneys produce pigment deposit under the skin around the eyes and other parts of the face.

Many cosmetic problems can be attributed to vitamin deficiencies. Dark circles and puffiness are often thought to be due to vitamin K deficiency or a lack of antioxidants in the diet.

It is also believed that lack of the mineral iron can cause dark circles. An iron deficiency may point to anemia, which is a potentially serious medical condition that requires treatment. If you believe you may have anemia, see your family doctor to schedule blood work.

Dark circles occur more frequently and are more noticeable with age, because as we get older, our skin loses collagen and becomes thinner and more translucent.

Under-eye Remedies

Reduce the puffiness and lighten your circles with these all-natural solutions.

1. For starters, be sure you are getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night.

2. What you eat counts! Eat a healthy, balanced diet, drink plenty of water, and make sure you are getting all your vitamins and minerals. Be sure to get plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially cabbage, spinach, and other leafy greens. Eat at least 2 cups of organic fresh spinach everyday. Additionally, eat a handful of raw almonds (unsalted and unroasted) between meals. Avoid salty foods, as salt causes the body to retain water, which equals bloating and puffiness that is particularly noticeable under the eye.

3. Asian pear is a juicy and crunchy fruit that has long been prized by Chinese herbalists as a way to lighten under-eye circles. Asian (or Fuji) pears are packed with copper and vitamin C, antioxidant nutrients that help protect you from cellular damage caused by free radicals. When free radicals damage enough skin cells, signs of aging begin to appear. Copper is an essential component of superoxide dismutase (SOD), an enzyme that attacks these harmful agents when they enter the body via air pollution and other toxins.

4. Treat your skin while you sleep. Just before bed, lightly wet a washcloth with cold water and place over your eyes as you sleep. By morning, you should see an improvement.

5. Apply cucumber slices or cool tea bags to your eyes. Cucumber slices are famous for their ability to reduce puffiness, and the tannin in tea bags has been found to reduce swelling and discoloration. Lie down, close your eyes, and place fresh cucumber slices or cool, damp caffeinated tea bags over your eyes for about ten minutes every day.

6. Gently apply almond oil under your eye every morning and evening until you see improvement.

7. New skin-care technology has become available through years of intensive research; it is now possible to find creams and other products that can help you combat under-eye circles. A product I suggest is an all-natural anti-aging eye cream that lightens dark circles under the eye. For more information, click here.

8. Avoid smoking, as it causes vascular problems that not only threaten your health, but also make your blood vessels appear more prominent under the skin.

Treating your skin will help, but there may also be an underlying cause. Imbalances in your life show up on your face and skin. You may consider seeing a doctor of Oriental Medicine to uncover the root imbalance and improve your overall health.

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