Traditional Chinese medicine has long been a mainstay of Hong Kong’s health industries but there’s a growing demand for a wider range of alternative therapies and treatments. Wellness has become big business in the city, so we’ve put together the best options for those keen to explore what’s on offer.
The city may be filled with foot massage spots, but trained and true reflexologists are hard to find. But when you find a good one, it can be an ideal treatment for stress and anxiety and for pain relief. A healing practice that was used in ancient Egypt and India, it’s stood the test of time.
How it works: The basic concept is that there are many reflexes – or points – on the feet (and hands) that relate to different parts of the body. Pressure is applied to enhance energy flow and treat problem areas by improving circulation and relieving tension, which also helps stimulate the body’s own relaxation response. It’s non-invasive, pain-free, and easy to fit into a lunch hour.
Who to see: Agnes Morel at The Vitality Center is highly recommended. A trained nurse and podiatrist, as well as a qualified reflexologist she brings together knowledge of traditional and alternative medicine. She has a gentle, calm manner that puts clients instantly at ease, and she takes a holistic look at lifestyle, stresses, and wellbeing. It’s best to see her for a series of sessions but you’ll notice an improvement after just one.
For a long time regarded either as the stuff of stage entertainers or a last resort to tackle recurring issues of mind or body, in recent years many people have started to seek out hypnotherapists to tackle a problem head-on.
How it works: Under a state of relaxation and heightened suggestibility, people are better able to take on information that can help change their thoughts and actions. Hypnosis can cut through the chaos of the conscious mind, to target the subconscious to tackling bad habits (both mental and physical), recurring unhelpful thought processes, or just to achieve harmony tackling external or internal stressors.
Who to see: Sonia Samtani is highly recommended and offers clinical hypnotherapy as well as life coaching, and has worked with firms such as HSBC and Merill Lynch.
Christine Deschemin at Renewed Edge is also recommended. Christine is a Master Hypnotist and Hypno-coach, she’s certified by the NGH (The National Guild of Hypnotists, Inc) in the U.S. and has received a diploma as hypno-coach and practitioner in France. At her office in Central she works on all aspects of hypnotherapy for physical and mental wellbeing, including work with children and teens (for example dealing with exam stress) and hypnobirthing. She has a particular passion for supporting individuals to reach peak performance, be that athletes, executives or entrepreneurs who want to overcome behavioural and emotional challenges and reach success. Read more about hypnotherapy at Renewed Edge here.
For hypnobirthing and hypnofertility, Jennifer Halley is the go to woman in Hong Kong. Sweet, reassuring, and calm, she successfully did the treatment herself after repeated IVF cycles, and so knows first hand what clients are going through and how to help them navigate this tricky time.
Interest in essential oils is soaring as people look for natural remedies for milder aches and ailments as well as to relieve stress or improve emotional well-being. There is an over-abundance of information out there, some of it confusing and contradictory, so it’s best to seek out expert opinion before experimenting at home.
How it works: Each essential oil has unique benefits and characteristics. Most have anti-bacterial properties while some are anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal. Specific oils are useful for different moods, or challenges – some stimulate, others relax, and combining them can further extend their usefulness.
The body responds well to smell, and simply taking in the aroma can have an immediate impact but the benefit of having the oil applied as part of a holistic massage is that the oils work both through smell and through absorption. It can be used to help treat skin conditions such as eczema, as well as respiratory problems, muscular aches and pains, and anxiety.
They are also highly recommended in pregnancy and even in labour, provided you consult a qualified aromatherapist as not all oils are suitable.
Who to see: Marie-Line Meillassoux at The Vitality Center is an excellent choice with a range of skills in alternative health. She holds an internationally recognised diploma in Holistic Aromatherapy and is also a Reiki practitioner. She is a certified infant massage instructor and can guide on which oils to use for younger children. Informed and attentive, she has a wonderful array of oils to choose from and her combinations for massage are both creative and soothing.
For those looking beyond Western medicine and seeking something symbiotic with nutrition and mental health, Kinesiology has been a boon.
How it works: Kinesiology integrates traditional medical knowledge of anatomy and physiology with the philosophical and the emotional. The belief is that there is a link between mind, body, and soul – or an individual’s energy – and our thoughts, beliefs, memories, and experiences all impact how we feel day to day. Unresolved stresses accumulate and impact our health and wellbeing.
Who to see: Kinesiology Asia has a range of therapists that take a holistic approach to healing and are sought after for help with everything from digestive issues to addiction.
For those wanting to explore this area more deeply then Anisa Abdoolcarim at the Vitality Center may be worth a visit as she can conduct past life regressions, help tackle deep-rooted issues from childhood, and bring a new perspective on recurring issues.
This is more than just what’s available at the city’s cacophony of spas, it’s about releasing deep-seated tensions, and helping the body’s systems best handle modern life.
How it works: Therapeutic massage works more deeply on your key problem areas and you can select what best meets your lifestyle and symptoms.
Who to see: Sutherland Chan offers a range of therapeutic massage. The therapists focus in on your problem areas and can swiftly direct you to which treatment is best suited to your needs including deep tissue massage, lymphatic drainage, and myofascial release. They also have services for people with sports injuries.
An ancient practice more than 3,000 years old, acupuncture is still much loved and relied on today – particularly in Hong Kong where many prefer Traditional Chinese Medicine to western practices.
How it works: At its core is the idea that disease is the result of disruptions to the flow of energy in the body. The aim of acupuncture is to aid or kick start the body’s own healing processes, usually by pressing a fine needle into key points and unblocking this flow of energy. Your acupuncturist will take a detailed health assessment before beginning the treatment – needles are usually kept in place for between five and 30 minutes – but longer if needed.
Who to see: The grand dame of TCM in Hong Kong is Cecilia The, and her experience in acupuncture is extensive. She’s hugely popular with local and expat clients alike. Cheerful, thorough, and thoughtful, she’s a great soundboard for life as well as health. She’s in demand, so book well in advance but definitely regarded as worth the wait.
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