health

"The Jennifer Aniston approved health treatment that gave me crazy nightmares."

Image: Jennifer Anniston, via Getty.

Last week, I got attacked by a giant octopus. You want proof? Here’s proof:

Nat, after cupping.

Okay, you got me. There was no octopus - although several people have asked about potential run-ins with sea creatures upon spotting the big, round hickey-like marks on my back over the last week.

I signed up for cupping. You've probably heard of it - it's an ancient Chinese technique in which multiple cups are suctioned to the skin and held there for about 10 to 15 minutes. Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham are all fans of the treatment.

Cupping is often linked to acupuncture; it's a similar type of treatment in that it works with the meridians (the energy channels) of the body. Like acupuncture, cupping is supposed to open up the meridians so that qi and blood can flow freely and help the organs to function at their best.

Often, cupping is used to help treat conditions such as colds, flus, upper respiratory infections, bone pain, muscle pain and any other problems of the internal organs. Apparently it's great for deep tissue repair and stimulating blood circulation.

That said, it's good to remember that cupping is an alternative therapy, and the actual benefits are debated - they really isn't much scientific, fact-based evidence to prove that it actually works.

But I'll try anything once. And I had just finished up a round of university exams which saw me sitting slouched at a desk for over 15 hours a day; I was also about to get on a long-distance flight and so thought the treatment would be perfect for resetting and rejuvenating me before my little trek overseas commenced.

The experience

Treatments generally vary in price depending on where you go, but expect to pay somewhere between $60 - $120. It'll only take 30 minutes of your time.

I took myself to the Liangzi Health Oasis in Sydney, which is located in the heart of Haymarket, right next to Central Station. Liangzi aims to reflect the natural purity and beauty of ancient Chinese culture, and you truly get an authentic experience. Their cupping treatment will set you back $60 and take about 30 minutes. You can also add on a massage to accompany the treatment for $100.

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After getting changed into a simple top and pants, I had a traditional Chinese massage, which was very different to other massages I've experienced. For one, you keep your top on - no nudity going on here. For another, the massage techniques were clearly designed to work on deep layers of connective tissue, so it was less of a so-relaxing-I-could-fall-asleep massage, and more of a oh-I-think-this-is-actually-doing-something-to-my-back kind of thing.

When my massage was over, I removed my shirt, my back was oiled up and the cups were brought in. One by one, the cups were suctioned to my skin while I tried to stay still.

Honestly, it's a WEIRD feeling if you're doing it for the first time. It's not painful, although I was a bit uncomfortable, largely because it took a few minutes to get used to the feeling.

Nat, during cupping.

I left the treatment and carried on with my regular day. While I didn't feel wildly rejuvenated or anything, I did notice that my exam-induced upper back pain was gone.

And the other thing? I had CRAZY nightmares that night when I went to bed. I don't often have nightmares, and these were nightmares about earthquakes completely changing up my world. Take from that what you will, but I think it potentially related to the cups loosening up toxins in my body somehow...

Or not. Who knows? It could also have been stress slowly making me lose my mind. Anyone's guess, really.

At the end of the day, cupping wasn't enough of a life changer for me, and the marks were too prominent for me to try it again. I would, however, go back for another massage to ease my upper back pain.

If you still want to try cupping, just make sure you don't do it during the summer. The round marks stick around for a few days, sometimes up to a week, and people might start questioning you about octopus attacks if you show up in a swimsuit.

Would you ever try cupping?

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