Complex Complexion: The Face and Meridian Function





When the skin on our faces shows as a healthy lustrous complexion, it reflects the organs in our bodies are vigorous, with a strong immune system and well functioning blood and energy flows. And while good quality skincare is necessary for maintaining a healthy complexion, any external benefits can be depleted by psychological factors like stress and accumulated toxins inside our body, causing harm to our skin. I always believe in order to achieve outer beauty, one must first take care of the body’s internal organs.

The body is an energy system organism. According to theories of Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are twelve major pathways of energy in the body, known as meridians, which connect and affect the function of twelve major organs and systems: heart and small intestine, lung and colon, spleen/pancreas and stomach, liver and gall bladder, pericardium and triple heater (hormones), and kidney and bladder.

These meridians are running up and down throughout the whole body, including the face. That is why an interrupted flow of energy in a certain meridian can consequentially cause a slowing down or malfunction of a certain organ, which frequently shows on the part of the face corresponding to that particular meridian. Furthermore, every meridian-organ pairing is related to certain psychological/emotional indicators, which can also be detected when observing facial expressions, and subsequently balanced through local facial and distal body points.

Below are several examples of facial-meridian imbalances and their manifestations. By paying attention to these outward sides, much can be revealed about the overall health of the body.


The Heart Meridian Route – The House of the Spirit

Facial Coordinates: The heart is at the tip of the nose, and at the side of the upper and lower lips.

The Heart Meridian is a yin meridian and is paired with the Small Intestine meridian. It reveals itself through the brightness in the eyes, governs Fire and Heat, rules the blood and its vessels and directs circulation. It opens into the tongue and controls speech.

It originates from the heart, emerges and spreads over the heart system, passes through the diaphragm to connect with the small intestine.

The exterior (surface) running part runs to the lung, then turns downward along the arm. It ends in the inner tip of the little finger.

It rules: blood, tongue, throat, sweat, facial complexion, adrenals, thyroid, prostate and pituitary gland.

Element: Fire

Physical Imbalances: Shortness of breath, cold feeling in the chest and limbs, palpitations, cold sweat, inability to speak, memory failure and restless sleep.

Emotional Imbalances:The heart is the ruler of all emotions. Signs of imbalance include sadness, absence of laughter, depression, fear, anxiety, hysteria, erratic behavior, alternating joy and melancholy, dullness, yearning for love, jealousy and sorrow.

When Balanced: The Heart Meridian is associated with warmth, laughter and enthusiasm.


The Small Intestine Meridian Route

Facial Coordinates: The small intestine (SI 19) is at the jaw line and (SI 16) is just above the lateral lip line.

The Small Intestine Meridian starts from the tip of the little finger and crosses the wrist. It runs upwards along the posterior side of the forearm until it reaches the back of shoulder where it ends at the uppermost part of the back (the bottom of the neck). At this position, it travels externally across the neck and cheek until it reaches the outer corner of the eye and then ends in the ear.

It filters and absorbs liquids and solids that are sent from the stomach. It helps filter information and sort out facts to make decisions.

Element: Fire

Physical Imbalances: Signs include bluish lips with white border, emaciation, profuse sweating, swellings of nodules, hemicrania, tinnitus, pain around the ear, and pain depressing the abdomen.

Emotional Imbalances: A feeling of mental deficiency due to inability to assimilate ideas, and insecurity. Forgetfulness, indecision, unclear thought process. Restlessness and difficulty in expressing emotions.

When Balanced: Healthy expressions are love, joy, warmth, vitality, excitement, memory, ability in making decisions, clarity of thought.


The Stomach-Spleen/Pancreas Meridian Route

Facial Coordinates:Stomach meridian (St 1) is just under the eye and (St 4) is lateral and above the lip edge.The Stomach-Spleen Meridian is at the base of the chin, opening into the mouth and the lips, and acts as the pancreas, endocrine-wise.

The stomach meridian is a yang meridian and is paired with the Spleen yin meridian. It functions with the Spleen Meridian in the assimilation of Qi (energy) from food through digestion and absorption.

This point is the principal organ of digestion, transporting nourishment and fluid through the entire body, and sends its products to the lung to circulate to the organs and channels. It is responsible for firm warm limbs and gives support to organs and suspends them in the body. It governs taste, mucous membrane and moisture, and is the home of thought, learning and concentration. If impaired, fibrocystic breasts and uterine fibroids develop.

This meridian ripens fluids and food that are ingested. The pure part leaves the stomach and goes to the spleen where it is transformed into nutrients for energy and blood. The stomach loves dampness, while the spleen loves dryness. The energy of the stomach goes down when the energy of the spleen goes up. Most disorders tend to be excessive resulting in belching, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and the rejection of descending food.

Element: Earth, with strong nurturing qualities.

Physical Imbalances: Digestive and stomach problems, i.e., abdominal pain, distension, edema, vomiting, sore throat, facial paralysis, upper gum toothache, nose bleeding.

Emotional Imbalances: Anxiety, worry, skepticism, poor confidence, feelings of suspicion or mistrust.

When Balanced: Fairness, openness and caring.


The Kidney Meridian Route – Root of Life

Facial Coordinates: Since the brain is considered the sea of marrow, the kidney controls the physical movements directed by the brain. Teeth, being surplus bone are controlled by the kidney. It energizes hearing, and controls balding and graying. The Kidney meridian’s vitality is reflected externally by the condition of head and body hair and is associated with the entrance hole of the ears—tinnitus (ringing ears) is thus a sign of kidney dysfunction. It ends at the collarbone (KI 27).

The kidneys are the reservoir of energy, and the seat of courage and willpower, and therefore any impairment in the kidney meridian results in feelings of fear and paranoia. Intense fear can cause involuntary urination, a phenomenon also known to Western medicine.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the spinal cord and the brain are forms of marrow, and therefore poor memory, inability to think clearly, and backache are all regarded as indicators of impaired kidney function and deficient kidney energy. As one ages, kidney energy weakens.

Along with the large intestine, the kidneys control the balance of fluids in the body. In addition, they regulate the body’s acid-alkaline balance (pH) by selectively filtering out or retaining various minerals, and are responsible for filtering waste metabolites from the blood and moving them on-wards to the bladder for excretion in urine.

Element: Water

Physical Imbalances: Chest pain, asthma, abdominal pain, irregular menstruation, impotence, hernia.

Emotional Imbalances: Hysteria, paranoia, depression, fear, loneliness and insecurity.

When Balanced: Wisdom, rationality, clear perception, gentleness and self-understanding.

The Kidney Meridian is paired with: The Bladder Meridian.


The Bladder Meridian Route – The Guardian of Peace

Facial Coordinates: The bladder (Bl 10) is at the midline of the forehead and (Bl 1) inside the upper lid. It is closely linked to the kidney organ anatomically and functionally. Weakness results in back spasms.

Element: Water

Physical Imbalances: Headaches, back problems, or urinary problems, including excessive urination and incontinence; pain in the eyes, tearing and colds.

Emotional Imbalances: Lack of energy, being inflexible and fearful. Resisting change and basic negative attitude are also expressions of Bladder Meridian imbalance.

When Balanced: Hopeful, looking forward, calm and peaceful.


The Liver Meridian

Facial Coordinates: The meridian dips into the rib cage, runs up through the throat, opening to the eye, and ends at the crown of the head where it connects with the governing vessel.

The Liver Meridian is responsible for the replenishment of the blood for growth and renewal by filtering, detoxifying, nourishing, and storing blood. It regulates the amount of blood circulating, withdrawing and storing it when resting or sleeping, and releasing it during exercise. This meridian controls the movement of energy throughout the body. The liver is responsible for proper planning.

The liver makes the bile and the gallbladder stores it. It is associated with good nails, and the flexibility of muscles and joints. When deficient, the result is dried eyes and weak vision, as well as stiff muscles and joints and muscle spasms.

Element: Wood

Physical Imbalances: Liver function is reflected externally in the condition of finger- and toenails and by the eyes and vision. Blurry vision is often a result of liver malfunction rather than an eye problem.

Emotional Imbalances: The liver governs growth and development, drive and desires, ambitions and creativity. Obstruction of liver energy can cause intense feelings of frustration, rage, and anger, as well as irritability, resentment, jealousy and depression.

When Balanced: Kindness, compassion, and generosity.


The Gallbladder Meridian – For Courage and Initiative

Facial Coordinates: The Gall bladder (GB 1) on the lateral margin of the eye and (GB 4) at the upper eyebrow. Hormone points are in front of the ear and the side of the cheek. They help moderate emotions and sex hormone release.

The gallbladder secretes bile to help digestion, absorption, and assimilation of food. It works in harmony with the liver; any liver disharmony affects the gallbladder. The gallbladder nourishes the muscles and tendons and allows them to move.

The gallbladder is responsible for making judgments and decisions, and encouragement to act. Along with the liver it governs the emotions of anger and irritability. This Meridian’s Qi (energy flow) is responsible, among other things, for decision-making and good judgments, as well as providing courage and initiative.

Element: Wood

Physical Imbalances: Insomnia – waking up suddenly, very early in the morning and not being able to fall asleep again; eye diseases, including glaucoma and night blindness; tendonitis, stiff neck; ringing in the ears, dizziness.

Emotional Imbalances: Timidity, indecision, easily discouraged, and resentment.

When Balanced: Courage and initiative, decision making and good judgment, sound sleep, healthy expression and processes of creativity, planning, brainstorming, analysis, and decision-making.

Corresponding Meridian is: The Triple Warmer Meridian


Three Burners for Life Energy Transformation

Facial Coordinates: Conception vessel, or meridian, (CV 34) is just below the lip (also called the Ren Mo meridian) and plays a major role in Qi circulation, monitoring and directing all of the Yin channels. It controls the uterus and the embryo by maintaining the three Yin channels of the leg. It is nourished by energy from the kidney. When this meridian is weakened, it disturbs the liver and kidney, resulting in sharp pains to the genitalia or navel, and radiates to the chest.

This meridian is responsible for the movement and transformation of various solids and fluids throughout the system, as well as for the production and circulation of nourishing and protective energy.

It is a functional energy system, involved in regulating the activities of other organs, composed of three parts, known as ‘burners,’ located in the thorax, abdomen, and pelvis. The Upper Burner controls intake, the Middle Burner controls transformation, the Lower Burner controls elimination. It also controls function of all major hormonal glands.

Element: Fire

Physical Imbalances: Disorders of the side of the head, ears, eyes and throat as well as diseases involving the regions through which the meridian runs (gallbladder meridian, pericardium meridian, small intestine meridian).

Emotional Imbalances: Sadness, feeling of being disconnected.

When Balanced: Kindhearted, stable mind and emotion of joy.


The Large Intestine Meridian – Minister of Transportation

Facial Coordinates: Large Intestine Meridian corresponds to the side of the neck, lateral sides of the cheeks, upper lip and nostrils. It continues to the outside of the shoulder muscle, then crosses the shoulder blade and travels upward over the muscle at the side of the neck to the cheek, passing through the lower gums, then over the top lip, ending beside the nostril.

The Large Intestine Meridian (Li 19) receives the impure portions of food and liquid from the stomach and small intestine. It absorbs water from them and eliminates the rest.

Paired with the lungs, the large intestine depends on the lungs for movement via the expansion and contraction of the diaphragm, which works like a pump to give impetus to peristalsis by regulating abdominal pressure. Sluggish bowels may be stimulated by deep diaphragmic breathing and by toning lung energy. Purging the bowels may clear congested lungs and clogged bronchial passages.

Element: Metal

Physical Imbalances: Symptoms of abdominal pain, intestinal cramping, diarrhea, constipation and dysentery as well as disorders of the mouth, teeth, nose and throat.

Emotional Imbalances: This meridian is affected by the emotions of sadness, grief, and worry. An energetic imbalance in the Large Intestine can result in physical weakness and provoke emotional introversion, accompanied by feelings of depression, irritability, discouragement, distress and apathy and low self-esteem.


The Lung Meridian

Facial Coordinates: The Lung Meridian corresponds to the upper cheek area and nose/nostrils.

The Lungs are responsible for establishing the foundation of Qi (energy) for the entire body — the breath. The Lungs house the body’s Seven Emotions and are responsible for self-protection and self-preservation.

The Lung Meridian, also known as the Metal Meridian, likewise governs the skin, pores and respiratory system. Weakness in the Metal Meridian can appear as blemishes, eczema, pigmentation, uneven skin tone, acne or rashes around the right cheek area. If skin allergy and heavy metal toxicity is present, or oxygen content is poor, upper respiratory ailments and lungs sickness and problems with sweating can be related to Metal imbalance. This concerns the control of vital energy and the receiving and discharging of the body’s waste.

Element: Metal

Physical Imbalances: Disorders of the chest, lung, throat and nose.

Emotional Imbalances: Disappointment, sadness, grief, despair, anxiety, shame and sorrow.

When Balanced: Righteousness, dignity, integrity and high self-esteem.


The body is a complex system that shows how it’s feeling from head to toe. Traditional Chinese Medicine has drawn a map to navigate the pathways of energy that govern health and disease. The journey starts with the face, but everyone’s destination is whole-body wellness.


Helena Amos, M.Ac., L.Ac., is an acupuncture and natural medicine practitioner since 1986, having received Masters degrees in Acupuncture in England and the US. She received specialty training in Cosmetology Acupuncture in Europe and with the best teachers in the USA, and has been doing it for nearly 15 years. Currently, she is the owner of the Acupuncture and Natural Medicine Clinic in Rockville, MD, and is available for complementary consultations. Call 301-881-2898, email her at, and visit for more information. LIKE on Facebook @AmosAcupunctureandNaturalMedicine.