Several months ago, I noticed something interesting. Every now and then, when I’d get an acne breakout, I would get one on my otherwise-clear forehead…and always in the same spot.
I started to wonder…what if this is a tiny external sign of what’s going on on the inside? What if the is a clue to my body’s needs?
I started paying closer attention to these little “signs…” and began to notice patterns appear! Certain symptoms, even seemingly minor ones, were connected to other things that might be more important.
So that led me here….
Surprising Ways Your Body Clues You In to Health Needs
I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Hundreds of years ago (even, really, 100 years ago), medical professionals and healers from various traditions didn’t have the lab work and internal medicine capabilities we have today. They had to rely solely on external signs and symptoms to figure out what was good…and what wasn’t.
Most of the ancient traditions don’t deal with disease names and individual organs. They deal with things like energetics, constitutions, and other overall ways to “feeling” the body out.
This might include obvious symptoms, like stomachaches, headaches, or runny noses. But it also included subtle things, like eyes changing colors (iridology), mood, feelings of heat or coldness, etc.
Unfortunately, when Western medicine came around, they decided that all this was a bunch of woo and quackery. They wanted consistency. They wanted lab tests, to “prove” what was or wasn’t going on. Western medicine tried to standardize everything and make diagnosis a clear yes or no.
But that doesn’t really work.
So many people have had the experience of going to the doctor and complaining that they don’t feel well, in some way…only to be told “Well, my exam and this lab work says you’re fine, so you must be fine.”
Some never get a real diagnosis, or plan for getting better. Others have to wait years for someone to take them seriously, run more lab work, or even just, you know…look at them as a whole person and not a lab report. Many suffer when they don’t have to (or have dangerous and unnecessary drugs tossed at them) because of this approach.
It’s my theory that it’s possible — beneficial — to combine the two approaches, to really get a sense of what’s going on with a person’s health!
My Health Observations Over Time
I have a small obsession with this, to be honest. I always notice little things and I want to know what they mean. This has meant that I have picked up on a lot of different signs or symptoms over time.
Now, I have to say — these are only my own observations, and in some cases, backed up by a little research. I’m not a doctor, I haven’t studied a large population, and I can’t 100% prove any of this.
If any part of this could give someone a clue to what is going on with them, and that clue could lead them to the right information, or the right health professional, or give them a place to start feeling better…then it’s worth sharing.
Take it from that perspective. Some ideas that may help you discover new things about yourself. It’s a starting place.
Where, exactly, acne shows up is a clue to what’s going on inside. It’s not random.
There are lots of “maps” out there, if you search for “Chinese Face Map” and they do not all agree. I’ll tell you what it has been for me.
Forehead: Liver congestion, often due to too much sugar consumption.
Cheekbones: Lungs, from damage, allergies, or respiratory illness.
Mouth/Nose: Around the mouth, on the nose (including dry skin on the nose) is related to gut health, candida overgrowth.
Jawline: This is hormonal, often around ovulation or before your period.
Next to nose (on side): Large breakout here that takes awhile to come to a head/heal is a sign of ovarian changes/hormonal shifts.
I have only had that one ^ happen twice. Both about 6 months postpartum, and both times when my hormones were definitely not balanced properly.
Between eyebrows/bridge of nose: Liver or kidney congestion
Basically, if there is a sharp hormonal swing and/or your detox organs (liver, kidney, gut) are off — it may show up on your face!
Where and how backaches occur is important! I have had a lot since my last baby was born, and in many cases, the chiropractor didn’t help. That’s because it wasn’t a physical issue, it was internal. Of course, a backache very well could be physical, so if you have been active or have injured yourself, look at that as the cause first. If your backache is totally unexplained and usual stuff isn’t working, then this might be a clue.
Very low, across the back: Hormonal, related to your period or ovulation.
Lower third, on the side: Kidneys. May need more to drink or have a UTI coming on.
Upper right side, radiating to front: I found this one most confusing at first. The pain started right of center, just above the mid point of my back, and radiated out to the right side, and through to the front, over a fairly large area. The answer is liver. High sugar consumption or pro-inflammatory foods can lead to liver congestion.
Shoulders/neck: Usually tension from stress/high cortisol levels. May need adrenal support. This might also feel like it’s spreading from shoulders down the center of the back.
Overactive mind: High cortisol levels; in need of adrenal support.
Restless feeling in body: Low magnesium levels (sometimes low iron levels — I experienced this while pregnant, and when magnesium didn’t work, adding in natural sources of iron did)
Overly hot while sleeping: This is a feeling of internal heat, like — your skin isn’t warm, the room isn’t really warm, but you are SO hot and want to kick off all the blankets…and that doesn’t even help. This is a sign of low estrogen. Common in perimenopause and menopause, but also common postpartum.
I’m never hot — or I didn’t used to be — but since my last baby was born, I am usually hot at night. This was a sign that something wasn’t quite right.
Soreness in Arms/Legs
This area was most interesting to me because it seemed so random. …but it wasn’t.
I’m specifically talking about a weird, deep internal soreness (that isn’t really muscle, but might feel like it) along the sides of arms or legs. Rubbing it both produces slight pain, and feels relieving.
This is lymphatic stagnation. It is helped by dry brushing or exercise. Massage may also help, and drinking plenty of water.
Dry skin: Low levels of estrogen and/or progesterone.
Greasy hair: High levels of hormones, especially testosterone.
Hair falling out: Nutritional deficiencies! No matter what they tell you, excessive hair loss postpartum is NOT NORMAL. Yes, hair loss may ramp up a little, but if you are seeing bald patches and thinner-than-before-baby hair, something else is up.
After my sixth baby was the first time I ever noticed shedding more hair than usual. It never got very thin and I never had noticeable patches, but I lost more than is typical for me. Enough that my hair dresser noticed “baby hairs” about 6 months postpartum.
I suspect this is related, in part, to B vitamin deficiencies. But I’m not completely sure yet.
Irritability: Consumption of pro-inflammatory foods (white flour, sugar, vegetable oils, soy, preservatives).
Brain fog: Both consumption of pro-inflammatory foods and nutritional deficiencies.
Depression/Anxiety: Gut health issues, candida, sugar overconsumption, need for adrenal support, nutritional deficiencies.
Loss of sex drive: Low estrogen and progesterone, or high cortisol/prolactin.
Weakness/fatigue: Nutritional deficiencies. Also, a need for rest.
Early postpartum (3 – 4 weeks), I tried to exercise. And I could force myself…but it was awful. I ended up gaining weight instead of losing it, and I felt weak and dizzy and like I couldn’t quite see straight. I needed more rest, and more nutrition to bounce back from pregnancy. It’s a long story.
Food cravings: Nutritional deficiencies — usually. Cravings for specific whole foods (tomatoes, cheese, apples) should be honored. Cravings for greasy foods might be a need for fat-soluble vitamins or for more calories in general. Cravings for sugar usually mean either overall hunger, or a gut health issue. Don’t eat sugar, but do have a healthy snack. Chocolate cravings usually mean magnesium or a need for adrenal support (also, possibly zinc).
Lack of thirst: Lymphatic stagnation, kidney deficiency. Need for support in both these areas. May also be accompanied by a lack of urination.
Excessive thirst: Need for gut/pancreatic support, and reducing sugar consumption.
Weight gain: Low estrogen/progesterone, nutritional deficiencies, consumption of pro-inflammatory foods.
Irregular periods: Low estrogen/progesterone, high prolactin.
Stiff hands: Inflammation, likely due to consumption of pro-inflammatory foods.
Do you recognize yourself in any of these? I didn’t have them all. But I had some of them, and over time, it was enough for me to put the pieces together and know what was going on with me.
I worked on my gut health a ton while pregnant…and it was truly better after. But I also skipped meals way too often and worked crazy hours, and I ended up basically starving (it’s why I didn’t gain any weight, then had an 8 lbs. 7 oz. baby!). I was seriously depleted, exhausted, and my body was basically just trying to hang on.
Things are better now. Not all the way, yet. But a lot better. I have energy again, my skin is clearer, I usually sleep well. I’m still working on the rest of it.
I will do a follow up post on what else I learned about these…and how I addressed some of the issues I had.
If you are having any weird little symptoms and don’t see it on this list, leave a comment and the community will try to help you discover your starting point — so you can feel better, too!