18th Jun 2012 - A South Korean Summer...
Acupuncture -does it work??
We have been going to an Oriental clinic for the past 10 weeks now so I thought I would share our experience. We go to the Hoo Wellness clinic or 후한의원 in downtown Daegu as recommended by many expats, the doctor there Dr Audrey Shin is lovely and speaks flawless English so it is very popular with expats!
On the first visit they use various machines to measure your blood pressure, BMI, height, overall body fat content and they also conduct a stress test; where you are hooked up to a load of electric wires and told to lie perfectly still (but not asleep) for about 15 minutes! Then follows a consultation with the doctor and she goes through all of the tests which is really interesting as they can see the energy levels in all your organs, your cholesterol level and how ‘stressed’ your body is! Fascinating! Then you can mention any problems/concerns you have and she will tell you if they can help. To sum up, Ben asked for help with his sore back, neck and his eye and I asked for help with insomnia, weight loss and headaches, all of which apparently acupuncture and other oriental treatments can improve – hmmm I have to say I was very sceptical at this point but we are both open to new things and thought what the hell! Ben has had experience with acupuncture before in England and he really enjoyed it, the price in Plymouth was quite high so unfortunately he couldn’t have it regularly but we thought we would take advantage of the cheap prices in Korea.
The doctor explained to us that there are many oriental clinics in Korea and they are extremely popular here with the young and old and are often the first place a Korean will turn to for many ailments. The doctors in these clinics are qualified and respected as much as any other doctor.
So our treatments – well for the grand total of \14,000 or about 7pounds for the both of us we spend a lovely 2 hours in this clinic every Thursday evening after school! We can have a foot spa if we want then we have leg decompression treatments – this involves lying down on a bed and having your legs put into sleeping bag style cases and then air is pumped through to compress alternate points up and down your legs – this is supposedly good for circulation.
During the leg treatments we get a session of acupuncture where she will concentrate on our faces and arms – Ben gets lots stuck around his eye which looks quite freaky! The ones in my hand hurt sometimes and last week she put one under my chin which I was very aware of as any movement would have knocked it out! Generally they don’t hurt but sometimes you can feel an almost electric shock type of sensation as they go in – the doctor says this is when they are most powerful as they have hit a meridian line and doing the job very well! She leaves them in for about 10-15 minutes.
After this we roll over and the cupping starts! It basically feels like you are being hooked up to a milking machine! 8 cups are place on your back then she turns them on and they suck your skin – like a giant love bite! After the initial pain your back goes numb and it feels like a really nice massage for 15 minutes. We also get the electrical suction cups which are freezing cold large wet cups placed on the shoulders for me and lower back for Ben and these have electrical pulses going around in a circle – again it feels like a massage and I normally fall asleep at this point! We did laugh the other week as the assistant turned Ben’s cups on and the power was really high so he literally jumped out of his skin and was practically electrocuted! I was laughing a lot and the poor girl was so upset and kept saying sorry then when Ben started laughing she also fell about in giggles!
When the cups have sucked every last toxin out of our back we then get a final session of acupuncture on our backs and for me she concentrates a lot on my head which feels really good. Then we are finished and normally we are half asleep and covered in bruises! As you can see from the photo Ben’s back does bruise a lot and he is left for a few days with cup love bites! It is not uncommon to see people with cup style bruises all over their arms and legs in Korea!
So we love going to this place its very relaxing and great to have a pampering session after a busy week! Overall I think the treatments have helped – I have definitely had less headaches and Ben feels like it benefits his back and eye – whether this is the acupuncture itself or a placebo effect I am not really sure, however it is not doing any harm and we definitely feel relaxed and enjoy having the treatments so I would say it is a very positive experience! If you ever get the chance to visit an oriental clinic then I would highly recommend it – it is something we will really miss when we leave Korea.