Chen Tong Yun 陈彤云
—The 100-year-old TCM Dermatologist
Here at Five Seasons TCM, we believe that skin can often be a mirror of internal health! With incredible skin and at the age of 100 years old, Chen Tong Yun is still the chief physician of the Dermatology Department of the Beijing Hospital of TCM. For over 60 years, she's worked the halls of clinics and research centers in Dermatology with regards to TCM, and as one of the most most renowned TCM dermatological physicians in China, she has also been touted for having extraordinary results in treating neurodermatitis, chloasma, acne, and psoriasis. In honor of national women's history month, we cannot wait to share her story and her longevity and beauty recipes with you!
In 1921, Tong Yun was born into a family of Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners. Her father, Chen Shu Ren, was a well-known physician in Beijing for treating febrile fever. Since her early childhood, Tong Yun would witness the workings of her fathers knowledge. She recalls one instance that has stuck with her: a boy had been brought in with a bad case of scarlet fever. He had a consistently high fever that lasted for days, and his throat was hot and swollen, making it hard and painful for him to swallow. Tong Yun stood in the room, silent, taking in her fathers movements with peculiarity and intention. She saw her father calmly look at the boys' tongue and place his thick fingers near the small boys delicate wrists to measure the pulse quality. Her dad pulled out a pen and began scribbling away as he created the recipe for the childs' herbal decoction. The boy was sent to the herbal pharmacy to have his prescription filled. Exactly one week later, the child returned in perfect health. We go on to learn that this boy was none other than the son of Liu Yi Fei, the chairman of the Chahar Province during that time. A grand celebration was thrown soon after, when Liu Yi blessed the Chen family with an enormous red plaque to facing his clinic (cause you know, good feng shui) and was quickly the talk of the town!
“...to be a good doctor, you must understand both the inside and the outside of the human body.”
Seeing that plaque every day, Tong Yuns' deep-seated respect for her father and his capability to cure diseases only blossomed. She decided that she wanted to help others by walking the same path of TCM as he did. As the only child in the family, she would often be found by her fathers' side, visiting patients. During visitations, she would copy her father's prescriptions verbatim, and take them home to study the herbs and breakdown the formulations. This style of apprenticeship was traditionally the only way this knowledge would be passed down.
Fast forward into Tong Yun's professional career, and we can see the years of hard work and passionate learning have paid off! This incredible practitioner has developed her own unique treatments for various skin diseases and is known for her emphasis on understanding and differentiating the root causes and patterns. Many have traveled across the country to see her.
She has successfully restored confidence for so many who struggle with skin conditions. At the same time, turning 100 years old this year, Tong Yun still maintains pristine skin that is as delicate and tender as ever with no history of botox or fillers involved.
During her appearance on Beijing Television (BTV), she mentioned how the secret to her youthful skin lies within maintaining good health of the internal organs and having good lifestyle habits. In other words, she believes that if one were to show lesions on the surface of their body there must be internal roots as the source. For instance, a common cause for acne for women would be related to their internal imbalances, such as disturbed menstruation. She says: “to be a good doctor, you must understand both the inside and the outside of the human body.”
Good nutrition is foundational medicine according to Tong Yun. She says that in addition to sufficient fruits and vegetables in our diet, a bowl of porridge everyday does wonders for our skin.
We've found and translated her porridge recipe to strengthen the spleen and stomach:
Ingredients (1-2 servings):
- 2-3 jujube dates
- 1 tbsp goji
- 1 tbsp (raw) peanuts (preferably with skin!)
- 1 tbsp dried Chinese yam pieces or powder
- 1 tbsp dried lily bulb
- 2-3 walnuts
- ¼ cup raw white rice
- 1-2 cups of water or soy milk
- Rinse everything and soak for at least 3 hours.
- Strain water and rinse.
- Mix the ingredients with rice and cook it into porridge on the stove. Roughly 35-40 mins. Add more liquid for desired consistency.
Another one of her recipes that was featured on the show is a tea that can help one with sleeping issues and excessive heat. TCM believes that the heart is in charge of all the internal organs, which is why one should pay special attention to it.
- 30g lotus seed
- 20g longan
- Rock sugar (optional, to taste)
- Wash and soak the ingredients for at least 3 hours, once done boil it for 15 minutes.
- You can tea the seeds and longan too!
Finally, another one of her secrets to preserving her health is that she has a set goal to walk at least 2,000 steps a day, even at the age of 100! She brings a pedometer (like America's Fitbit) around with her so she can track her movement. If she was a couple hundred steps shy from her goal, she might take a walk around the neighborhood or get off the bus a few stops earlier to walk home. “Exercise is not only for the body, but for the mind as well”, she said.
As a woman who has so much to share, Tong Yun recently developed a series of skincare products based on her research in both TCM and biomedical dermatology. The products have won awards given by the Beijing Municipal Administration of TCM Technology. Although there are many beauty and skin care brands on the market, the “Chen Tong Yun Brand” has been sparking the interest of the public because of the effectiveness, her charisma and expertise.
It is hard to imagine that while doing so much, Tongyun is a widowed mother of three children, who are all happily married and successful in their careers. She lost her husband early in life, yet she picked herself up from grief and focused her energy on education, healing, and nurturing her children.
We admire her knowledge, grace, and strength. We hope you try her recipes and live a healthy, nourished life as she does! And before we part we'd like to share her daily diet, something she shared with Jian Kang Shi Bao Journal in China:
- I stay away from heavy foods like meat. I don't take supplements. I eat multi-grains, vegetables, and fruits every day. Animal protein is just an accessory for me.
- I wake up to 6oz of tea made from American Ginseng and goji to wake me up and keep me energized.
- For breakfast, I usually eat oatmeal, a steamed bun, and half of an apple.
- I like a vibrant and fulfilling lunch that lasts at least 40 minutes. I need to chew everything slowly. I try do make it as colorful as possible. Usually, I eat some kinds of green leafy vegetables, and then red colored vegetables like tomato and radish, and then white colored foods like fish and tofu. I always stop eating when I'm 70%-80% full.
- I sometimes eat a small plate of celery salad in the afternoon to add good fiber to my diet.
- For dinner, it's usually vegetables with mixed grain porridge. I like to mix millet, mung bean, soybean, adzuki bean, black rice, buckwheat, and some other legumes together to make a porridge. I also put raisins, lotus seed, and jujube dates sometimes.
- After dinner, I eat jujube dates with walnuts for my brain, spleen, and intestines. Oh, I also eat 6 pieces of peanuts.
- At around 9pm, I eat fruits! Usually I eat half an orange and a kiwi.
- I wake up at 6am and sleep before 11pm. I never stay up late, even when I am very very busy.