Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What looks like torture is actually healthy... or so they said!

Remember that Spa I mentioned in one of my posts the other day? Yeah well, at that place some of my male friends enjoyed both cupping and scraping.

In China, these therapies are called guasha (scraping) and bahuoguan (cupping) and they involve, well, a lot of aggressive back scraping for the former and then the application of vacuums to the skin for the latter.

Scraping, which is supposed to give relief to headaches, fevers, chills, sunstroke, coughs, faintness, abdominal pains, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (whoa!) is normally performed with a wooden scraper. The therapist scrapes along the lines of acupoints (the points along which the body’s energy flows), particularly on the skin around the nape of the neck, the chest, the back and limbs.

According to the theory that the body feels pain when its channels are blocked, clearing out those blocked points is the key to a healthy body. Scraping, simply, plays the role of cleaner.

So, how did the scraped boys feel after their treatment then? Clean? Not sure. In pain? Definitely not (“It didn’t hurt at all!”), In fact, the only thing they said was: “we’re starving!” and then they literally ran to the restaurant, so maybe it did clean out some channels after all?! (The fact that they downed both their tacos and Coronas with gusto supports this argument)

As for cupping, the name refers to an ancient Chinese practice in which a cup is applied to the skin and the pressure in the cup is reduced (by using change in heat or by suctioning out air), so that the skin and superficial muscle layer is drawn into and held in the cup. Cupping is said to be used to treat rheumatism, severe sprains, colds, and stomach ache.

So how do they do it then? Well, they burn a cotton wool ball soaked with alcohol and put it inside of a glass cup. Turn cup upside down and when the flame is about to go out pull out the cotton and attach it the skin. Because the flame has burned all the oxygen, it creates a vacuum, which means the skin is sucked up into the jar.

Sounds a bit hocus-pocus? No shit, Sherlock! The boys said this treatment didn’t hurt one bit, however, it left really funny ‘cup marks’ on the skin, which stayed on the boy’s backs for a few days! Sexy, lads!!

All in all –if you’re in China you should definitely give at least cupping a try! I’m a bit suspicious towards scraping (aooooch?! How can it NOT hurt!?) but cupping sounds rather harmless. Just don’t do it during the bikini seasons…

A lot of Spas in China provides both cupping and scraping. You can also head to a local hospital to try the treatments.

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