From arthritis to stagnant blood, Traditional Chinese Medicine purports to cure a variety of conditions. Try these techniques to get your
The facts Acupuncture (zhenjiu, 针 灸) is the insertion of thin needles into various pressure points of the body. It is often paired with moxibustion (see right) and has a recorded history stretching back to 100BC.
Used for Acupuncture is said to help with all sorts of aches and pains,
from sports injuries to tinnitus.
Today, it’s most commonly used to
treat back pain or migraines, and in
some cases for nausea, particularly
following operations. The theory
posits that opening up certain
points of the body can help the flow
of qi (energy) along meridian lines,
leading to improved health.
What it’s like We were prepared for
a short sharp prick of pain when the
needles were inserted into our skin,
but not for the sensation of deqi
(arrival of qi), which sees whole parts
of our body go numb. At least we are
lying face down during the process,
meaning we don’t see the six inch-long
needles going in. They’re left
sticking out of our lower back, neck
and forehead (aimed at treating
back aches and sleep issues) for
20 minutes. The numbness is odd,
but we eventually get used to it and
though one or two points remain a
little sore after the treatment, the
pain dissipates by that evening.
Where to try it With a professional
set-up and a team of reassuring
TCM experts, Inner Peace Clinic
(399RMB per session) makes the
process of having someone stick
needles into your body remarkably
comfortable. Better yet, the clinic
employs acupuncture as
part of a holistic approach
to treatment, so you
can expect a wealth of
advice for healthier living
once you’re done with
Inner Peace Clinic
Seventh Floor, China
Overseas Plaza, 8
Chaoyang district (6506 1116).
Open 9.30am-6.30pm daily (by
appointment only). 朝阳区光华东里
The facts Cupping (baguan, 拔罐)
is a treatment where glass
jars are applied to
the skin along
of the body.
is generated by
creating a vacuum,
usually by heat. The suction
ruptures capillaries, increasing the
blood fl ow to the designated area.
Archaeologists have found evidence
of cupping being used in China as
long ago as 1,000BC, and possibly
even earlier in Ancient Egypt.
Used for Cupping
is believed to dispel
stagnation, improving qi
fl ows and realese toxins.
In general, it is said to
stimulate the ‘flow of
energy’ around the body,
and the blood rushing to
the areas being treated
is supposed to promote
healing and alleviate all
sort of aches and pains.
What it’s like Several cups
are applied all over our back
with a strong suction and left
on for around 15
part is quite
when we see
the marks on our
we can see why.
Our back looks
like it got in a fight
with an octopus,
thanks to large,
– which last for
around a week. As for
improving our energy,
sadly the main thing we feel
is a slightly tender back for the
rest of the week.
Where to try it You can try
cupping at most massage and TCM
specilalists across the city. We go
for foot massage spot Fuqiao Foot
Massage in Dongzhimen (98RMB
for around 20 minutes).
Fuqiao Foot Massage (富侨足道)
Fourth Floor, Yufei Dasha, 42
Dongzhimenwai Dajie, Dongcheng
district (8818 0188). Open 24 hours
The facts Scraping, or to use it’s
slightly more appealing name,
guasha (刮痧), involves lightly
rubbing a blunt instrument on your
body to remove the top layer of skin.
Used for Guasha is meant to be
good for treating tense muscles,
and again, unblocking the flow of
qi; practitioners believe it releases
unhealthy elements from injured
areas and stimulates blood flow.
What it’s like Despite the name,
it’s actually not too painful. We start
with a nice strict massage, after
pointing out areas of focus to our
therapist. The most painful areas
are those with tension – as with a
massage – but considering there is
a person pulling off a layer of your
skin, we actually feel quite good
afterwards. The most shocking
part is the state of your body. Our
back is lined with deep red marks
– apparently the darker the red,
the more effective. You’re also
advised not to bathe
or swim for at least
a week afterwards.
Not something to
try directly before a
Where to try it There
are plenty of TCM places around town offering guasha, but given the scrapy nature of the treatment we suggest you choose a credible place. We like the short and sweet 20-minute treatment (80RMB) at massage experts Dragonfly, which is always a haven of tranquility.
Dragonfly Therapeutic Retreat
Ground Floor, Grand Summit Plaza
(100m north of Lufthansa Centre),
19 Dongfang Dong Lu, Chaoyang
district (8532 3122). Open
10am-midnight daily. 朝阳区燕莎桥
The facts Moxibustion (aijiu, 艾灸)
is an ancient form of TCM that
involves the burning of a herb
called mugwort. It might sound
like something out of Harry Potter,
but this little herb has mighty
pretensions. The mugwort is ground
into a substance known as moxa,
which is then either applied to
the skin directly with a cigar-like
stick or burned at the end of
Used for Practitioners believe
that applying the heat to various
meridian lines on your body will help
stimulate the flow of both blood
and qi, and it can be used to treat
everything from digestive conditions
to pregnancy difficulties.
What it’s like There are various
degrees of moxibustion therapies,
and how it feels depends on how
extreme you are. If you try the
sexy-sounding ‘direct scarring
moxibustion’, heat is applied to
your skin for just long enough for
the skin to blister. But if you don’t
fancy having cigars stubbed out on
your skin – and nobody in the Time
Out team was up for it – you can
try ‘indirect moxibustion’, which
involves acupuncture needles that
are heated by the moxa, sending
the heat gently into your skin; it’s
not painful and gradually warms
the region around the needle.
Many clinics now also use a less
invasive adaption of the treatment,
where special heat is applied on the
same basis, but without needles –
which many will probably consider
much more preferable.
Where to try it TCM specialists
Tang Massage offer needle-free
moxibustion from 198-398RMB for
an hour’s treatment.
Tang Massage 8-2 Jiaodaokou
Dong Dajie, near Beixinqiao station,
Dongcheng district (8402 4408).
Open 10am-2am daily. 东城区交道口
The facts One of the best-known
TCM treatments, and one you’ve
probably tried, tuina (推拿) is the
form of Chinese massage which
involves pressing on particular
energy points in the body.
Used for All manner of aches and
pains, especially back and neck
issues, or conditions like sciatica.
Oh, and – you guessed it – it helps
get your qi in motion.
What it’s like Our tuina starts
with a recognisable neck and back
massage before the therapist
starts to press particular points
and manipulate our body in unusual
ways. Certain points are extremely
painful, especially the neck
massage and a point somewhere
below our armpit we didn’t even
realise existed. Despite this, the
massage is nevertheless relaxing.
Where to try it You can get a tuina
massage all over town, ranging
from high-end spas to street-corner
massage parlours. We like Suhang
Blind Massage (80RMB for an hour).
It’s nothing fancy, but it’s both
effective and very affordable.
Suhang Blind Massage 9 Gongti
Dong Lu, Chaoyang district (5607
8788). Open 9am-11.30pm daily.