Detoxing Chinese style

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Now that the mince pies and mulled wine have been eaten, it’s time to get back to healthy habits. Need a helping hand? Why not try traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which offers an integrated approach to wellbeing. And fortunately given the fashion for all things Chinese, you don’t need to head east to find out what all the fuss is about. CD-Traveller tried out the new trend ….

I nervously tried this traditional Chinese remedy – an alternative to acupuncture that is reported to boost blood circulation and suck out toxins – and leaves large circular bruises on your back.

It wasn’t pleasant (make no mistake; this treatment is definitely more productive than pampering). My therapist showed no mercy as she moved the suction cups across my back hovering up swathes of skin in quick succession, so as to encourage the flow of qi (energy) around my body. Fast forward 15 minutes and I was left with a mass of sore, swollen and angry looking red welts – the more toxic you are, the deeper the bruising – proof that I had definitely overdone it during the festive season.


Afterwards, however, while enjoying some health conscious cuisine against a backdrop of the soothing sound of pan pipes, I did feel strangely invigorated and my shoulders certainty felt looser – though that might merely have been relief that my torture was over.

CD-Traveller’s verdict: If you’re in need of purifying, give the cupping craze a go: it’s  good enough for Gwyneth Paltrow and La Beckham and, if nothing else, makes a great dinner party story.

The Chinese sign up for a scraping session whenever they find themselves afflicted with flu or even a just a common cold. Using what looks like a scalpel, your TCM doctor will quite literally scrape your back and throat in long, languid movements. It’s terrifying but not half as painful as you would think and, against all the odds, really does work. Half an hour after my scraping session, my cold symptoms (weeping eyes and nose) had cleared – something a month of western medicine  failed to accomplish.

CD-Traveller’s verdict: Definitely recommended to anyone suffering from a cold or hacking cough. It’s not for the squeamish (see picture above) but is an effective (and affordable) way to get your body back on track.

The ancient Chinese favourite sees needles inserted into the skin at seminal pressure points to improve your energy flow and repair any imbalances. In China, acupuncture tends to be offered at clinics and hospitals but in Britain, salons and spas such as Ragdale Hall ( administer acupuncture.

I smiled weakly as my therapist produced the needles but my fears were misguided. For the most part, my acupuncture experience was a relaxing one – only proving mildly unpleasant when the needles entered an area where my flow of energy (or Chi as they say in China) was blocked.

CD-Traveller’s verdict: Surprisingly relaxing. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Iraq war veterans who are turning to acupuncture in their droves to ease their pain. However one acupuncture treatment is rarely enough: a course is recommend for optimum health.

Chinese Reflexology
Aka a supremely painful foot massage. Pressure is applied to various points on the feet, all of which relate to our organs. Again if the flow of energy is blocked, pain is felt. My therapist was able to ascertain from my winces that my kidneys aren’t functioning as well as they could/should. She wasn’t wrong: I have had kidney problems in the past.

CD-Traveller’s verdict: Worth a try for anyone who feels one degree under most of the time – and not just in January.

Chinese pedicure
Ask the stylish Shanghainese the secret to looking (and feeling great) and they’ll reply: good grooming. Even during an arctic winter when feet are hidden away, encased in man made fibres, the Chinese never mistreat their feet. The Chinese argue that a pedicure leaves you feeling more groomed than all the other beauty procedures (read: masks, scrubs and the sort) put together; it’s almost part of your outfit… Fish pedicures, dead skin scraping, cuticle clearing (don’t panic – it’s all terrific, not terrifying) are the name of the beauty game before polish is applied by therapists with hands so steady as to make Petr Cech look shaky. 45 minutes later, you’ll be left with fabulous looking feet.

CD-Traveller’s verdict: As pick me ups go, pedicures are affordable and quick. Translation? Even the time poor and budget conscious now have no excuse for not having baby soft heels…

Tui Na massage
Tui Na is an oil free massage where therapists rub, press, squeeze and work their way around a body as though with the claws of a satisfied cat. So don’t be surprised if your therapist uses his or her forearms, feet, elbows, knuckles and knees to knead out your knots. While it might not sound in the slightest bit relaxing (there’s no scented candles or pan pipe music playing in the background), at the end you’ll leave feeling invigorated and re balanced. In China, both men and women have Tui Na massages at least once a month, to soothe away the stresses and strains of modern life.

CD-Traveller’s verdict: A must. This is one of the best, not to mention cheapest, massages we have ever had.




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