Let’s face it: we are obsessed with balancing our body’s wellness imbalances these days, and not just with physical well-being, but inner well-being as well. Whether it’s taking 10 minutes to listen to a meditation app, doing a yoga streak in the morning, making sure you’re doing your weekly exercise, or drinking your favorite tonics to keep your digestion in tip-top shape, we’re listening more than ever to the importance of wellness – and exploring new ways to fit it into our busy schedules every day.
One particular avenue that is gaining popularity when it comes to treating stress related issues is none other than Traditional Chinese Medicine. Working on the basis of preserving health by maintaining balance (rather than fighting disease when it presents itself), TCM may be a particularly attractive alternative therapy method for those interested in their disease. holistic well-being.
Overlap between a spa-type wellness center and a health clinic, Hong Wo Lok (literal translation as “health and happiness”) is the premier therapeutic Chinese medicine health club in Hong Kong, located on Hillwood Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. Founders Tommy and Stella are a young couple who have long believed in the effectiveness of maintaining health through TCM – Stella in particular, who has relied on TCM to successfully manage her chronic period pain throughout. long years when generic medicine has failed to do so. Former real estate investors in the UK, the two grew up and studied abroad, but decided to move to Hong Kong to build their passion project together.
A trip to Hong Wo Lok is far from an ordinary visit to the Chinese practitioner’s office. As you walk into Hong Wo Lok, there’s a good chance you’ll be greeted by the friendly presence of Teddy, the resident therapy dog ââ(or âDr. Ipâ as he’s affectionately known) who can instantly brighten up your day. departure. . A first visit begins with a full personal consultation; mine took over 40 minutes to go over my current health issues, illness history, and daily eating, sleeping and even bathroom habits. It was a bit embarrassing to tell practitioner Zhou about my stool and period, for example, but he professionally accepted everything without batting an eyelid and was very determined to find the root of my health problems. Namely for me, my main concerns were poor digestion and bloating (with this season of gluttony, can you blame me?), And Zhou asked me plenty of questions, some of which also required in-depth knowledge of the Western medicine to properly determine my health. State.
After Zhou took my pulse, I almost felt like I was at a fortune teller rather than a Chinese doctor. Zhou mentioned that my pulse was “rough,” like running your finger over a jagged edge rather than a smooth, unblocked pulse of a healthy pulse, and that this indicated a heart or lung problem or emotional stress (all around. bingo, thanks to being born with a weak lung and strong personal anxieties that I was dealing with that week). I have been diagnosed with phlegm moisture build-up which, as disturbing as it sounds, just means that I tend to collect more moisture in the body than others.
Humidity is a major no-no according to TCM. Normally associated with weak kidneys, spleen, and sometimes a weak lung, as well as with overeating and overindulgence. It is often manifested by lethargy, heavy limbs or profuse sweating. It can cause us to swell and it can also block regular bodily functions. With this, Zhou gave me a table of foods belonging to certain categories as well as a cold-heat spectrum that I could eat: crab, considered “cooling” or lamb and offal, considered had to avoid, and instead stick to sweeter foods in the middle of the spectrum, including white fish, chicken, and root vegetables. The humidity inherent in my body type, from a TCM perspective, could be easily exacerbated by hot or cooling foods. I was also recommended to have a session of Ginger Moxibustion along my front meridians and legs to stimulate yang energy and blood flow to help dispel this moisture. Finally, I was prescribed a digestive tea that I could take home.
Among the other therapies available at Hong Wo Lok – from tui na from massages and lymphatic detox sessions to fascia stretch therapy, suction cups and even ovarian and breast health massage – one of the most unique is Ginger Moxibustion. More popular in mainland China, Hong Wo Lok is one of the few registered centers that can provide treatment in Hong Kong. Moxibustion involves lighting a cone of moxa, or crushed mugwort, and using heat and smoke to stimulate the blood and qi circulation of energy in the body. Ginger moxibustion, a preferred method for digestive issues and joint pain, adds a layer of ginger between the skin and the moxa, allowing heat to penetrate through the ginger. With the strong medicinal smell of this particular treatment, Hong Wo Lok has a dedicated room with special equipment to help soak up all the smoke so the whole center doesn’t smell like a herbal barbecue.
While preparing for the hour-long moxibustion session, my therapist massaged me vigorously from shoulder to calves and even rubbed my stomach firmly knowing I was having bloating issues. Then I was covered in towels except for a long strip of gauze running from my chest to my abdomen, where my therapist then placed a bed of hot, juicy ginger shreds that had been freshly warmed up. I could smell the aromatic ginger that was already starting to warm my body, like the way a heartwarming sip of hot tea in winter washes its heat right through to my fingertips.
Placing the spoonfuls of moxa along my stomach, she began to light them. She placed transparent trays above me to catch all the smoke; I felt like I was halfway between laying on an operating table and a human buffet, and as my therapist patted the ginger bed, it seemed more and more that she was cooking some sort. of strange fried rice on my body.
As the grass burned, I first felt a gentle warmth invade my exposed skin, but after a few minutes, as the heat spread through the ginger, my body started to sweat – my arms and back. were soaked, I was sure. I was unable to move under the ginger mound, and she had also attached wooden moxibustion boxes to my legs; on my shins, ankles and knees along the two meridians there. The pain here was also directly related to the health of the digestive system, according to the wisdom of TCM, she said.
There, I lay down for much of the session as the moxa continued to burn. When she added more mugwort to my stomach, I finally felt a sweet searing heat penetrate my body, to which she adjusted the positioning of each spoonful accordingly when it was unbearably hot. I was really sweating – my chest and face were pink and my body a little too warm, and my legs, normally cold after lying down too long, were also comfortably warm.
When I walked out of the moxibustion room, surprisingly, my hair and things didn’t smell like herbal medicine much. I felt pumped; lighter, detoxified in some way, or could it have been a placebo? Moxibustion is known to be popular among pregnant women with breech babies, with sessions used to help their babies roll over before birth. I hoped it had done something to the qi in my body too.
One of the highlights of the session was post-therapy tea – guests are invited to the veranda, a tranquil, green space overlooking an unexpected miniature forest in Tsim Sha Tsui’s backyard. Looking towards the old weather observatory, the location on the 16th floor was perfect for not picking up the noise of the road below, but still picking up the sounds of the gentle chirping of birds from the not so distant trees. The perfect place to sip fantastic quality tea in seclusion before braving the streets below again.
Whether it was tea, massage, or the actual blood-pumping moxibustion session, I can certainly say that I found less bloating in the days that followed, and my digestive system seemed to be failing. to be awake, with food in one. finish and take the other out several times a day (if you will excuse the IMT). But I have to say that I am very impressed with the comfortable atmosphere of Hong Wo Lok and the detailed knowledge I have gained about my own health, with rare English-speaking friendly Chinese medicine experience. I can’t wait to see more therapy offerings at the center the next time I feel like my bowels need recalibration and sip tea on the veranda with Dr Ip sitting by my side.
Sessions at Hong Wo Lok start from HK $ 350 for an initial TCM consultation and an introductory price of HK $ 770 for Ginger Moxibustion, with member prices to follow. The service charge can be deducted from a membership package which can be shared among family members. A mobile app is also available for members to keep track of their health reports and reservations. Hong Wo Lok, 16 / F, Nathan Hill, 38 Hillwood Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong, +852 2592 6000