Life expectancy continues to increase among the World population and in the United States, and as such, our desire for a good quality of life in those Golden years is also of utmost importance. (Google Public Data, 2018) A good quality of life isn't measured by just merely being alive, it includes the ability to do normal day to day tasks, be free of pain and mobile, have nourishing, healthy relationships, and most importantly having a nourishing and healthy relationship with ourselves.

Self-confidence is often undervalued in terms of healthcare, overlooked for more 'concrete' signals of quality of life, or rather the absence of indicators of poor quality of life. The beauty industry is booming more than ever before, and with it the demand for anti-aging and youth enhancing products and treatments. Botox use is also on the rise, over 7 million Americans used Botox in 2016, and younger demographics are increasing use as 'preventative' treatment. (American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 2017) As a society, our value of quality of life, should include a factor for self-confidence and self-esteem, because how we feel about ourselves, and residing in our own body is a key factor in determining our quality of life.

Acu Meridian ChartAncient Chinese medical chart of acupuncture meridians. Photo: Wikipedia CommonsResearch continues to favor the effects of Cosmetic Acupuncture, showing noticeable, yet subtle, results after a short series of treatments. (Yun, et al, 2013 and Yun Y. & Choi I. 2017) However, in most studies regarding Cosmetic Acupuncture the function of the full body acupuncture treatment and the importance of the Shen, and its effect on the face and appearance is often overlooked nor mentioned. Existing studies have focused on the direct and obvious, measurable outcomes of the cosmetic effects, noting whether face lines have diminished or skin elasticity has improved, but the overall appearance of the face and the brightness of the Shen, or Spirit, in the face isn't accounted for.

A person who lacks their Shen showing through their eyes and face is often seen as looking dull, tired, or even unattractive. This property of beauty has no correlation with the physical structure of the face and is based solely in the person's True self, or spirit, being expressed through the eyes and facial appearance.

The Shen, in Chinese Medicine is one of the five spirits or souls of every person, Shen is considered one of the vital substances of the body and is a subtle, yet incredibly important form of Qi. There are many ways to translate the word 'Shen' including spirit, mind, consciousness, vitality, God, soul, expression or energy; with such a vast and encompassing meaning it's no surprise that the Shen is a critical element to how we look and appear to others in life.

In addition to these internal qualities of the Shen, another translation and interpretation of the Chinese character Shen 神 means to express and extend. The Shen, quite literally, is the outward expression of our internal consciousness, this vital life-force plays an important role in how we present ourselves to the World, and when we can clearly express our Shen through our lives and bodies, our true beauty and nature is seen by others. Beauty, in this holistic sense is far more encompassing than just reducing wrinkles, it's in the expression of our spirit that we can be truly seen by others. (Maciocia 2012)

There are some scientific approaches to measuring attractiveness of the face, yet they still continue to lack the variable for personality, the Shen/Spirit and who the person is; in fact most scientific approaches to measuring attractiveness rely on the impersonal, objective nature of the measurement. (Bashour M., 2006)

While in day to day life, almost anyone can attest to an experience where they initially found a person attractive only to become unattractive to them after learning more about who they were as a person, and vice versa. This key component to beauty and attractiveness is a factor that needs more focus and attention while we are seeking out beauty treatments, because if we are only addressing our exterior physical appearance, very little is actually changing in our system. Acupuncture NeedlesApplication of acupuncture needles

Some physical interventions for beauty produce greater, more obvious results than other methods or treatments; Botox vs over-the-counter face creams for instance, however it still remains a superficial treatment which results in transient effects that continue to need to be maintained.

Maintenance of all cosmetic procedures is necessary, even surgical intervention, as aging can be considered quite the chronic condition which we can never truly reverse or stop entirely. With the inclusion of treatment of the whole person however, we often find that external, physical interventions for beauty are needed less frequently, because in the act of treating the whole person from the spirit–mind–body approach we are assisting our patient to access a deeper level of their higher spirit self, and in doing so, this new light, the Shen, will show externally, adding to the perceived beauty of the person, and most importantly to the patient's own sense of beauty, self-confidence and self-esteem.Before and After Cosmetic AcupunctureBefore and After Cosmetic Acupuncture treatment.

As a practitioner of Cosmetic Acupuncture for over 8 years, one commonality I have found with every client is that throughout a series of Cosmetic Acupuncture treatments, the patient usually becomes far less focused on their physical appearance or the appearance of their wrinkles and laxed skin, and more focused on how they feel and the changes they notice in how their face now seems to radiate light, looking and feeling more awake and more present in their bodies, and lives.

A person who's Shen and spirit is truly showing through their face, body and energy is accessing the highest level of beauty possible, no matter how many wrinkles are present on their face. True beauty is not in the physical form of the face, but in the spirit showing through it.

Accessing and cleansing or clearing the Shen can be done through acupuncture, but also other methods of energetic medicine including mediation, massage, exercise, acts of healthy living such as healthy conscious eating, engaging in healthy relationships and work and of course, partaking in joyful activities.

While, as a Chinese Medicine Practitioner I may refer to all of these processes as clearing the Shen or bringing the Shen to life, this process is also a measurable outcome in conventional science. The youth enhancing or anti-aging effects of mediation have been documented, showing that meditation contributes to lower oxidative stress, decreased levels of stress hormones and increased cell longevity. (Epel, et al 2009) This decrease in the severity of the stress response is not only a contributing factor to healthier body tissues and organs and their functions, but also appears on the external physical appearance.

Quite simply; when we relieve stress whether physical or emotional, this shows on the face because we are helping to remove obstructions of the Shen. Stress appears in our lives from any array of external or internal stimuli, from pain in the body, to work stress, relationships, diet, lifestyle, disease and so forth, almost any experience in life is a trigger for stress, regardless of the perceived positive or negative connotation with it. When stress is managed, quality of life improves, and a side benefit of improved quality of life and decreased stress levels is an improved physical appearance.

In addition to meditation, acupuncture has also been studied for its ability to improve our ability to deal with stressors and decrease stress levels. Acupuncture triggers dopamine release, reduces pain, improves sleep and regulates hormones. Every effect of acupuncture can play a positive role in improving the physical appearance of a patient, merely by mitigating the stress response. (Xinjing Yang, Zhuo Guo, Jun Lu, et al, 2017)

We can draw similar associations between the benefits and effects of meditation and acupuncture alike, both modalities illicit similar responses in the body, and while acupuncture has the ability to be more versatile with directed treatments for specific complaints, the mechanism of action is still quite similar.

From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective both modalities improve the flow of qi through the body, and this alone is enough to improve physical pain and problems in addition to the mental and spiritual benefits of relieving a person of energy blockages, qi deficiency or excess and pathogens in the body. As we can see, acupuncture alone is a great modality to treat a patient for stress and stress related conditions, and in doing so we are increasing the body's own natural ability to slow down cellular death, decrease stress and pain levels and improve our ability to deal with stressors when they occur.

Acupuncture in and of itself is an anti-aging treatment when we look at the entire picture of benefits received by the treatments.
When we are providing a Cosmetic Acupuncture treatment that includes a full body acupuncture treatment to treat the patient for underlying constitutional problems, pain, stress and other complaints we are applying a fully holistic approach to enhancing beauty, not simply minimizing the appearance of wrinkles on the face. In the act of healing on all levels of body, mind and spirit we embark on a holistic approach to beauty and anti-aging, we release the patient's Shen to shine through their appearance into the World.

True beauty lies in the person's ability to let their truth and spirit release into the world through every encounter and interaction in life. It becomes increasingly difficult to engage in that task while the body is overrun with stress, pain and disease, and thus taking a holistic approach to beauty treatments, whether 100% natural or integrative in nature is paramount to providing a treatment that is a catalyst for true change and growth in addition to physical beauty. As we all know, beauty is never only skin deep and is far more complex concept than modern science can accurately measure. Through every acupuncture treatment, whether for cosmetic purposes, or simply a pain management treatment, we are helping our patients clear their blockages to fully embracing the whole nature of their Shen and Spirit.

When any person takes a step forward in their growth and releases more of their Shen into the world through the act of expansion, the side benefit is always an improved appearance. An increased glow in the face, brightness in the eyes, and color to the skin are all factors that contribute to a youthful appearance, and as such, we can say that bringing out our patient's Shen is fundamentally one of the most important aspects of a Cosmetic Acupuncture treatment.


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  7. Yun Y. & Choi I., (2017, December), Effect of thread embedding acupuncture for facial wrinkles and laxity: a single-arm, prospective, open-label study, Integrative Medicine Research, vol. 6 (4): 418-426,

Kim Peirano, MSOM, L.Ac. is the Owner and Acupuncturist behind Lion's Heart Wellness in San Rafael, CA. Kim is a Master's of Science graduate from the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, CA, and a CA State Board Licensed Acupuncturist. Kim has been practicing acupuncture in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2010. In addition to her training as an Acupuncturist, Kim is a Deeksha Oneness Blessing Giver, and an advanced level student at the Foundation for Spiritual Development in San Rafael. She utilizes her intuitive connection to help guide her treatment strategies and diagnosis with each patient, by accessing the subtle natures of the Qi in the body she is able to provide unique, individual treatments and insights to every session.

Department article from Qi Journal, summer 2018