Inside Saigon’s Alternative Wellness Scene

The modern world swims in a sea of pharmaceutical pills and potions, some opt for solutions that don’t flood the body with chemicals. Grab one of the lifebuoys of alternative medicine! But there has been heavy debate. Do these fringe philosophies have any validity or is it all quackery? Find out for yourself.

Read on in Vietnamese

Marketed as “natural”, “integrated”, and “holistic”, many of these treatments have roots in traditional Eastern healing traditions. Many of the methods are regarded as pseudoscience as little scientific literature bolsters its efficacy. Some of these unorthodox treatments claim to treat physical ailments. Others promise a spiritual and emotional turnaround. Alternative medicine–while particularly trendy nowadays–has been around for eons. Hey, if it helped our ancestors, why not give it a go? Wink gives you a run down of 10 alternative methods and practices that you can visit right in Saigon.

1. Sound Healing at Mandala Wellness

Music is healing. We know that. We put on a song, and our moods become silly putty. Sound healing capitalises on this auditory sensitivity. In a sound healing session, patients are immersed in what is called a sound bath. Much like a yoga class, the teacher is set up front and center, with his or her chosen bowls, gongs, chimes, and cymbals. People lay in Savasana (on their backs) on mats dispersed through the rooms. It starts with breathwork. Slowly, the harmonic vibrations work at a cellular level to aid in the release of stress. By the end you should feel like you’re near sleep. The goal is simply deep relaxation.

Where: Mandala Wellness, 41 Tran Ngoc Dien, District 2

Contact: Website | Facebook

2. Acupuncture and Cupping at Tan Binh’s Traditional Medicine Hospital

The thought of being pricked by a bunch of tiny needles is unnerving. But when chronic pain becomes too much, many resort to acupuncture. One of the Eastern medicine big dogs, acupuncture has taken the world by storm. After its conception all the way back in the 1st century AD, acupuncture has been making a steady tread across the world, finally making its way to Western countries in the 19th century. It involves using needles to stimulate points where Qi, Chinese for “energy flow” is blocked.

And if you’ve been in Asia for a couple weeks, you have without a doubt witnessed someone walking around with a back polka-dotted with large purple bruises. The culprit? Cupping. Traditionally Chinese and Middle Eastern practice, Vietnamese people have adopted cupping as their own. You can think of cupping as massage’s intense older sister. Much like a massage, the patient lies face down on a massage table. The practitioner lights up alcohol, herbs, or paper inside a glass cup. As the fire goes out, the cup is placed upside down on the skin. The air cools, and suction is created. Blood vessels expand. Roughly three minutes later, the cup is removed. A cup-shaped battle scar remains for about a week. Five to seven cups are applied. Cupping promotes blood flow and relaxation. It’s basically a version of deep tissue massage.

Where: Traditional Medicine Hospital, Sky Center Building, 5B Pho Quang Street, Tan Binh

Contact: Website

3. Aromatherapy at The Reverie Saigon’s Spa

There’s nothing quite like walking into a room that smells like jasmine, chamomile, or sandalwood. It can even imbue a person with a sense of wellness and calm. You’ll recognize a lot of the scents found in perfumes and colognes are present in aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is often combined with massage. One complements the other, creating an immersive, bodywide experience. Harness the power of essential oils to relieve anger and irritability, minimize insomnia and fatigue, and even boost memory and confidence. Patrons choose the combination that targets their problem areas.

Where: The Reverie, 22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard, District 1

Contact: Website

4. Reiki at Healing Hands Saigon

Reiki is about Chakras. A buzzword you’ve likely heard thrown around. Practitioners move their hands over the Chakras they want to “read” or affect. Japanese in origin, the word Reiki is made up of two Japanese words “rei”, meaning universal, and “ki”, meaning life force. The philosophy revolves around supernatural energies. Practitioners and patients believe that these energies transfer from the palms of the healer to the patient, promotes healing. According to Reiki, each human has a life force flowing through the body. When the energy runs low, a person feels unwell–stressed or depressed, even sick. Reiki restores the strength of life force energy.

Where: Locations in District 2

Contact: Facebook

5. Isolation Tank Therapy at Float Saigon

“Float”, some call it. Because that’s exactly what it’s meant to feel like. Patrons step into a sci-fi-looking flotation tank filled with water. It contains Epsom salt and magnesium sulfate and is body temperature, creating the sensation that one is floating in mid-air. For the duration of the session, it’s “Bye bye, world.” It feels as if the senses have shut off, allowing the brain to feel “shut off”. Without a need to process stimuli, the brain is free to delve deeper into itself spiritually. Plus, the absorption of the minerals causes a rise in the body’s level of magnesium sulfate levels. In layman’s terms, this calms the nervous system and activates the body’s healing abilities. A fairly new concept, sensory deprivation is gaining popularity. Devotees claim they come out feeling focused and equipped with a new sense of creativity.

Where: 47/1/1 Quoc Huong, Thao Dien, District 2

Contact: Website | Facebook

6. Ayurvedic Treatments at A’veda Herbal & Wellness

India’s oldest traditional medicine has made its way to Vietnam. In Ayurveda, there are three Doshas, or elements. Vata, Pitta and Kapha. When they are in balance, we are healthy. Imbalance means disease. But fret not, Ayurveda practitioners can adjust these elements, using traditional herbs and minerals. Within Ayurveda, there are different techniques. Marma therapy is widely regarded to be the most restorative. Marmas are predecessors even to the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture. Just as the Chinese have a word for life force, “Qi”, so did the Vedic people of ancient India, “Prana”. Like in Chinese medicine, Marma focuses on points along the body that link to pathways. Physical toxins or mental strain can gung up the passageways. A practitioner will apply gentle pressure to a patient’s marma points. Each point is connected to specific tissues and organs. When the marma point is unclogged, Prana can flow to their respective tissues and organs.

Where: Villa-1, 21/1 Xuan Thuy Street, Thao Dien, District 2

Contact: Website | Facebook

7. Chiropractic Treatments at Maple Healthcare

Chiropractic is rooted in the belief that the spine–home of most of the body’s nervous system–is responsible for most of the body’s function. Ergo, fix the spine to fix the dysfunction. Misalignments to the spine can arise from bad posture and sleeping habits, slip and fall impacts, and exercise injuries. Chiropractic doctors nip discomfort at the bud. They focus on the gradual realignment of the spine to rid the patient of nerve pain and irritation. An aligned spine means that the delicate nerves can do their job. No more neck and back pain. Chiropractic has also been known to eradicate headaches, numbness, and even asthma!

Where: 107B Truong Dinh, District 3 and other locations

Contact: Website

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