At the Olympics this year, US swimmer Michael Phelps came under the spotlight for something other than his gold medals. He became the subject of discussions as viewers wondered aloud what the angry round red marks all over his back were. He wasn’t the only one showing the marks. Many athletes from all over the world across all disciplines had them.
Those round red marks were a result of a process generally referred to as cupping. Cupping is a traditional Chinese method of detox practiced in the East for thousands of years. This traditional method is said to detox the blood and generally promote the flow of energy in the body and balance the “ying” and the “yang”.
Cupping isn’t the only traditional detox method that has seen a soar in popularity over the years. Other traditional methods of natural detox have also increased in popularity, with many swearing by them. Here are our top 5!
Acupuncture is practiced widely in China and various parts of Asia and is said to correct the yin yang balance in the body. Amongst others, acupuncture relieves pain as well as improving digestion. Acupuncture needles are inserted into several points in the body and are manipulated by hand or by electrical stimulation.
Acupuncture has also found popularity in the West, where more and more people turn to acupuncture for detox. As acupuncture corrects the imbalances in energy flow, detox acupuncture believes that the balance will help stabilize the body’s organs, thus helping flush toxins out.
Known as the world’s oldest holistic system, Ayurveda is based on the idea of balance. The Ayurvedic system promotes the balance between body, mind and spirit to maintain good health. There are several detox treatments that are based on Ayurvedic principles, but two of the most common are the Kitchari Cleanse and Panchakarma.
The Kitchari cleanse uses the Ayurvedic diet to cleanse the body of toxins. The Kitchari cleanse follows a mono-diet, which is consumed for three to seven days. Kitchari means “mixture” and is usually a combination of rice and beans. Common beans used are yellow mung beans, although alternative types of beans are also acceptable. When done right, this cleanse is believed to help the digestive system rest and reset, ensuring all imbalances in the body are corrected.
Panchakarma means “five therapies”. The panchakarma therapy is a detoxification treatment that combines five therapeutic treatments – Vamana (emesis), Virechana (purgation), Nasya (nose cleansing), Basti (enema) and Raktamoskshana (blood cleansing)– to eliminate toxins from the body. Panchakarma diet is also based on kitchari and is generally combined with the cleanse.
3. Oil Pulling
Oil pulling finds its roots in Ayurveda, but is significantly gaining in popularity as a standalone detox method today. Oil pulling is an oral detoxification method that involves swishing a tablespoon of oil in your mouth for 20 minutes before spitting it out. The type of oil used in this method varies, with the most recommended type being coconut oil. Oil pulling helps remove bacteria from your mouth and promote a clean and healthy environment, preventing tooth decay and gum diseases. But don’t skip brushing your tooth just yet! Experts recommend that you do both to keep you teeth strong and healthy.
4. Gua Sha
Gua Sha is an ancient technique involving the repeated scraping of the skin. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners believe that the repeated pressure on the skin will help break up any blocks and promote smooth blood circulation. It is traditionally practiced in China and Vietnam but is also popular among Hollywood elites with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Elle Macpherson swearing by it!
5. Traditional Sauna
This traditional form of detox is thought to have originated from Finland, but finds many form all over Europe. The word “sauna” finds its roots in ancient Finnish, referring to the traditional Finnish bath. The intense heat in a sauna causes one to sweat, which is a great form of detoxification. Sweating in a traditional sauna is also believed to balance health problems such as hypertension, fatigue and discomfort. The sweat helps remove toxic agents such as lactic acid, sodium and uric acid from the body. In the past, sauna benefits in Finland include it being a sterile place for childbirth. As such, it was very common for babies to be born in a sauna!
AUTHOR: ELAINE CLARA MAH
Elaine is a contributing writer for BookDetoxRetreats.com. She is a passionate journalist that holds a 200-hour yoga teacher training certification and teaches Hatha and Vinyasa yoga. She incorporates Ayurveda practices into her day-to-day life.