Secrets of Korean Medicine Part 4: The Skin Is the Mirror of the Lungs

How clean is your mirror?
November 20, 2015 Updated: November 20, 2015

The appearance of the skin, is one of the foremost criteria of beauty and throughout the entire history of mankind in both the East and West women have persisted in their efforts to become more beautiful by caring for their skin.

Today there has been rapid advancement in functional cosmetics, plastic surgery, and various medical skin care devices. The anti-aging industry aimed at slowing the aging process and maintaining youthful skin is currently growing rapidly at the rate of 11 percent per year. Moreover, the medical skincare device market is expected to grow at the rate of 7.4 percent per year until 2017.

Many women are willing to pay high prices for the hope of firm, silky-smooth skin and as part of their daily skin care routines, use expensive cosmetics that block UV rays, whiten, regenerate, and reduce wrinkles. Many women also undergo procedures like filler injections, Botox, face lifts, fat grafts, cosmetic surgery, and even hormonal and stem cell injections in the name of beauty.

The abundance of these products and procedures clearly reflects the desire human beings have to look youthful as we age, but they are mostly superficial and don’t help restore the systems that make the skin glow with vitality.

Vicious Cycle of Skin Diseases

As the advances in dermatology give women more options in skin care, the number of patients suffering from skin diseases is gradually increasing throughout the world as well. Acne, age spots, and pregnancy related dark patches (chloasma) continue to be unsolved problems for many women, and the pain of chronic skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis is severe.

Since the symptoms of the skin diseases are highly visible, people have the tendency to quickly resort to drugs and ointments in order to get rid of them as fast as possible. With many of these treatments, the skin appears to improve almost immediately but after several weeks can become even more aggravated, causing the patient to seek higher doses of the same medications.

Higher doses can again produce improvements but symptoms will inevitably recur even more severely. The cycle of temporary alleviation followed by increased aggravation will eventually result in a hopeless situation in which no drug will be effective for the disease.

True Alleviation

Stress on your skin and scalp affects your lungs. (RADIO82/ISTOCK)
Stress on your skin and scalp affects your lungs. (RADIO82/ISTOCK)


If you are or know a person who is caught in such a cycle, the story of Rachel Kim (an alias) will interest you.

Kim, a resident of New Jersey, had a lung condition called bronchiectasis (or bronchiectasia), which is characterized by a persistent cough with excess phlegm. When she came to me she was vomiting blood and phlegm several times a day. I recommended cleansing her lungs with herbal medicine and she diligently followed my instructions. The frequency of her coughing up phlegm began to gradually decrease and after eight months there was no more blood.

Moreover, she obtained an unexpected benefit. Although she only intended to cure her lung disease, the appearance of her skin improved remarkably, to the point that her colleagues asked what her skin care secret was.

And hers is not an isolated case. I have experienced countless patients in my career whose skin improved when their pulmonary diseases were properly treated. If this connection seems puzzling, you’ll see the reason when you take a little bit deeper look into the principles of Korean medicine.

Cause Versus Manifestation

When there is a problem in the body, it will manifest outwardly. Symptoms that manifest on the skin indicate problems beneath and thus are the ‘results’ rather than ’causes’ of the problem. So it is necessary to remove the ’causes’ in order to eradicate the problem at its root.

An important fact is that areas of manifestation differ depending on the part of the body where the problem occurs. In Oriental medicine the lungs are one of the five major organs and the skin is the body part that corresponds to them. From this viewpoint, the skin is the mirror that reflects the condition of the lungs so by cleansing the lungs you cleanse the skin. [Editor’s note: Korean medicine draws its foundational principles from Chinese medicine thus we use Oriental medicine when a reference pertains to both.]

The lungs ensure harmonious circulation and communication between the internal and external by fully opening tightly closed hair follicles and sweat pores. A large part of this communication is the inhalation of energy with the breath and the discharge of waste with the exhalation.

If there is excessive, repeated stress or irritation to the skin and scalp, it will affect the lungs, resulting in degradation of pulmonary function.

As I said in article 3, I believe that although the symptoms of skin diseases are different, they have the same fundamental cause. They manifest due to the accumulation of waste and toxic substances underneath the skin.

Since there is only a single cause, there also is a single treatment method. Discharging this waste will cure skin diseases. Opening sweat pores and the follicles of body hair will help this detox process.

To open sweat pores, exercising, taking a sauna or steam bath, and bathing the lower body in warm water are effective methods. However, this alone does not cure skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis, which can only be eliminated when body hair follicles are also fully opened for a prolonged period of time.

When the body hair follicles are opened, fatty waste matter can be properly discharged and chronic skin diseases can be completely cured.

Healthy Tonsils for Healthy Skin

Breathing fresh air helps clean the lungs. (MISFIRE_ASIA)
Breathing fresh air helps clean the lungs. (MISFIRE_ASIA)

When lung function is degraded, this will aggravate the tonsils, which are the first line of defense of the body. When the tonsils are impaired, an extensive range of pathological germs will be able to infiltrate the body and induce various skin diseases and diseases of the respiratory system.

Therefore, reinforcing pulmonary function in order to achieve healthy tonsils is the key. When the tonsils are healthy, healthy lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell) will be produced to fight off harmful germs. Moreover, the immune ability and self-healing ability of the body will be maximized, which will allow the body to fundamentally cure incurable skin diseases like eczema and psoriasis.

The Road to Healing Can Be Rough

The process and appearance of the skin discarding the toxic substances is extremely diverse. Cleaning is completed after the patient’s skin undergoes various stages including itchiness, scaliness, sores, and discharge from the sores. So there is a need for some measure of endurance by the patient. However, patients should remember that these stages are like a river to be crossed and a mountain to be climbed, not easy to do but beautiful skin waits on the other side.

The principles I’ve described above may seem very simple, however, it took me a long time, and much research and clinical observation to realize them.

In the course of my work I have seen several tens of thousands of patients suffering from incurable skin diseases be completely cured using them. So I can now say with certainty that it is possible to treat all skin diseases by fully discarding waste under the skin and thus restoring, the health of the lungs.

So imagine the complete disappearance of your age spots, acne, eczema, psoriasis, and more after the lungs have been cleaned and the beauty of your skin fully restored. How joyous this would be!

Dr. Seo Hyo-seok.  (Courtesy of  Dr. Seo)
Dr. Seo Hyo-seok. (Courtesy of Dr. Seo)

Dr. Seo Hyo-seok is the director of the Pyunkang Korean Medicine Hospital, which has seven branches in South Korea, one at Stanton University in California, and one in Atlanta. Dr. Seo entered at the top of his class from Kyung Hee University in Korea and after years of research developed the Pyunkang-Hwan herbal formula, which improves immunity by strengthening lung function. It has helped cure over 155,000 patients of various conditions.

Find out more at