As one of our five senses, vision is depended upon for interacting with the world around us. When the health of our eyes is compromised and our vision is limited in some way, either acutely or chronically, it can be very scary. Most of us take it for granted that we see clearly, but for those with eye problems like visual loss, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, night blindness, as examples, any form of help is welcomed. As a practitioner of Chinese Medicine, I’ve observed the positive effects of using acupuncture, moxibustion, and herbs to improve eye health.
Eye Health and the Liver
Chinese Medicine relates the health of the sense organs to different internal organ systems. It’s a different way of thinking about how the body works. Aside from the physical organ itself, the organ system encompasses other aspects of the body, including specific emotions. For example, the Liver is responsible for helping metabolize fats and toxins, but also for the health of the eyes, the tendons and ligaments, for keeping circulation happening effectively, and for managing healthy anger. Four thousand years ago the body was seen as functioning in a more holistic way, a way that is still valuable today even though we’ve learned a few more things with advanced technology.
So in order to improve eye health in Chinese Medicine, the health of the Liver is evaluated and treated. Specific points throughout the body are stimulated with fine, stainless steels acupuncture needles for this purpose. Also certain herbs can be ingested to support eye and Liver health. Two herbs that you may be familiar with commonly used for eye disorders are wolfberry fruit (goji berry) and chrysanthemum flower.
Herbs for your Eyes
Goji berries are sweet, red, and diamond shaped. They are nourishing to the Liver blood. They’re high in antioxidants, dietary fiber, proteins, monounsaturated fats and amino acids. Wolfberry fruit has high levels of zeaxanthin, lutein, polysaccharides, and polyphenols, which are known to improve eyesight, prevent macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy. These berries strengthen the vision, moisten dry eyes, and nourish the liver and kidneys. Dried wolfberries are easily found in local food co-ops. They can be eaten as dessert, sprinkled over cereal, or soaked in hot water and taken as tea.
Chrysanthemum flower tastes both sweet and bitter. This tea has been used in Chinese Medicine for over a thousand years and it said to prevent aging. This herb is known to clear heat from the Liver. Chrysanthemum has a long history of being used to treat blurred or spotty vision. It also contains beta-carotene and is a good source of vitamin Bs like choline, folacin, niacin, as well as riboflavin. In China, it is common to sip on a cup of chrysanthemum tea for dry or sore eyes after long hours of visual focus. The flowers have anti- inflammatory properties and their natural vitamin C content fights germs and infections. A little tea made from chrysanthemums will make an eye wash that can combat infections.
Warming and Nourishing
Aside from treating the Liver, the eye problems are treated locally in order to improve circulation and nourishment. Local stimulation of acupuncture points around the eyes can improve blood flow and proper functioning. It is common to see pressures in the eyes reduce immediately following local treatment for glaucoma. This can be done with acupuncture, acupressure, and moxibustion. Moxibustion is a warming technique, typically using the herb Chinese mugwort. Mugwort is dried and packed together, then burned and held in front the eyes to warm and improve blood circulation. Acupressure is a self-therapy that can be done at home. Specific points around the eyes are massaged for the same purposes as acupuncture and moxibustion. By simply massaging daily around the bone structure of the eye and lightly massaging above and below the eyeball itself, this can provide improvement to your eye health.
Whether you get dry eyes after computer use or have a degenerative eye problems with fear of blindness, these are some time-tested therapies to support the health of your eyes and vision. As we hopefully get some sunny Spring days ahead and you find yourself squinting to keep the excessive light out, don’t hesitate to protect your eyes with sunglasses. Also don’t hesitate to contact me to learn more about the acupressure technique mentioned, herbs, moxibustion or acupuncture.