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Home > Newsletters > February 2010 > Ask the Doctor

Points -  Ask the Doctor

Q: Why do I dark circles under my eyes? What can I do about them?

A: Because the skin around our eyes is the thinnest skin in the body, dark circles are actually blood vessels that can be seen through the skin, producing a bluish tint. Dark circles are often hereditary. Allergies are another common cause of dark circles; when you rub and scratch your itchy eyes, you can break the tiny capillaries beneath the skin, causing puffiness and discoloration.

Chinese medicine considers dark circles to be a sign of weakness in the Kidney organ system due to exhaustion and overstrain coupled with a lack of rest and relaxation. Because the Kidney in Chinese medicine governs the hormonal system, it also affects the skin pigment, melanin. In TCM, depleted Kidney chi or energy produces pigment deposits in the skin under the eyes and in other parts of the face.

Dark circles and puffiness can also be due to vitamin K deficiency, or a lack of antioxidants in your diet. Iron deficiency is also believed to cause dark circles. As we age, our skin loses collagen and becomes thinner and more translucent, so dark circles can be more noticeable with age.


  • Do your best to get seven to nine hours of sleep every night.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet, drink plenty of water and make certain you are getting all your vitamins and minerals. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially cabbage, spinach and other leafy greens. Eat a handful of raw nuts and seeds between meals, and avoid salty foods.
  • Asian pear is a juicy, crunchy fruit prized by Chinese herbalists for lightening under-eye circles. Fuji apples are also prescribed.
  • Lie down and apply cool tea bags to your eyes for about ten minutes per day. The tannin in tea bags has been found to reduce swelling and discoloration.
  • Gently apply almond oil under your eyes every morning and evening until you see improvement.
  • Avoid smoking; it makes blood vessels under the skin appear more prominent.
  • Consider visiting a doctor of Chinese medicine to uncover your root imbalances and improve your overall health.

About our Doctors

This month's Ask the Doctor question was answered by:

Dr. Maoshing Ni, L.Ac., D.O.M., Ph.D. from his website:


This Month's Articles

February 2010
Volume 8, Number 2

The Year of the Tiger - 2010

The Health Indexes in Chinese Medicine System  

5 Secrets to Winter Health and Energy

Recent Research

Ask The Doctor


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