I’m a huge fan of traditional medicine practices such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurveda. They have such a beautiful holistic approach of treating and diagnosing the cause of ailments in the body, which I feel our Western medicine approach of medicating the symptoms can definitely learn a lot from.
I was recently approached by an amazing new service based website BookWell, and offered my choice of experience to try out. More than just an online service directory, it also offers a super handy booking and review feature for a whole range of health and wellness services, from hair and nails, to massage, fitness and alternative therapies.
I really wanted to try out something new, so went straight to the alternative therapy section to see what I could discover. Heavy and constant weight training (and not enough scheduled recovery time on my part) means I’m often sore and tight, and with a current literal pain in the neck I decided to go with Acuharmony in the CBD. I’d tried acupuncture a couple of times before, once from a physio and another time as part of a different generalised Chinese Medicine consult, and admittedly wasn’t a huge fan. BUT I decided it was definitely still worth it and opted for a combination of massage, reflexology and acupuncture as well as also trying out gua sha – which I hadn’t heard of before! Upon booking, I was also informed I was offered cupping as part of the session, which I was then more worried about trying!
Arriving at the Acuharmony clinic on Little Collins St, I was looking forward to how I was going to feel after the session, and thought it would most likely be similar to a physio consult rather than a relaxing massage experience!
My appointment was with Dr. Luan Pham, and we started by going over a little of my medical history, any current issues as well as some generalised questions about my overall health and wellbeing. Again, I was impressed at how TCM takes a holistic approach to health and wellness! The room was also so relaxing with soothing music, aromatherapy and also cosy and warm (which was definitely a nice change to the cold, rainy day I was previously experiencing on the way over).
Along with gua sha, I hadn’t heard of moxibustion before (and it wasn’t until the end of the consult he explained what it was) and it was probably the only part of the consult where I was slightly confused as to what was going on!
Most of us are probably aware of acupuncture; it involves the use of fine needles which are inserted into the skin at specific points along the body’s energy lines (meridians) to help clear any energy blockages and assist an optimal flow of energy (Qi) throughout the body.
While some people may be needle-phobic, it’s a painless experience which is beneficial for a huge range of illness and ailments, both physical and mental, and as such the use and treatment will be individual to the person each time.
Gua Sha/Spoon Scraping
Gua Sha, or spoon scraping, involves gently scraping a device along the skin to help improve circulation.
Also a painless procedure, the scraping is said to beneficial in stimulating toxin remove and clearing stagnant energy (chi). In TCM, this stagnant energy is thought to potentially be responsible for inflammation, and this movement of rubbing the skin’s surface is thought to break up the energy and reduce the inflammation.
Again, it was totally painless and I hadn’t even realised he had done it (I thought it was still just part of the normal massage!)
Cupping is a technique which uses fire to heat up the inside of specialised glass cups, which when then placed on the body create a suction effect.
I originally came across this technique years ago when celebrities when through a phase of making this popular, and while I know of a few gym friends who’ve tried I hadn’t really heard much about it before.
As with gua sha, the idea is to promote the reduction of inflammation, as well as clearing up stagnant energy and blood flow.
Looking at images of the treatment being performed, as well as the bruising effect afterwards, it looks like a pretty hardcore treatment so it was one I was excited to try but also nervous about! But just like everything else, it was completely painless. It did feel weird however; but just like a warm suction feel!
This was used towards the end of the session, and having not heard about this at all before I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on.
When I asked about all of the treatments afterwards, he mentioned Moxibustion and briefly explained the process.
It’s a form of TCM heat therapy which involves the during of dried plant materials (usually Chinese mugwort) called “moxa”, close to or sometimes on the skin. The goal is to warm and energise the flow of Qi in the body. Due to the warmth it provides, it’s meant to be good for “cold” ailments such as injuries or arthritis.
Apart from being curious about what was happening, it was a pleasant warm feeling which was also painless.
As soon as we got started, I was waiting for the “uncomfortable” part of the treatment to start; but it didn’t! The whole experience was super relaxing and definitely not what I was expecting – in a good way! The cupping was a strange feeling, but not a bad one at all, and the acupuncture was honestly so much better than my previous experiences.
I left feeling super relaxed and recharged, and definitely noticed a huge improvement in my neck pain and overall tightness over the next couple of days. At the end of the consult he was so helpful in explaining the treatments, as well as recommending beneficial stretches and movements to do from home.
I’ll definitely be visiting Acuharmony again, and would 100% recommend both this practice to other people too. BookWell was also an amazing and easy service to use and it’s definitely something I’ll be using in future too!