Welcome toВ Clothing Optional, a series in which we test out all the newest products and treatments meant to help us look better naked.
Most of us can probably agree that the prospect of being less-than-fully-clothed in front of other people can set off an endless fireworks show of insecurities about every tiny flaw that exists onВ our bodies.В A 2011В Glamour magazine surveyВ found that the average woman has over a dozen daily negative thoughts about her body and that a whopping 97% of women have experienced at least oneВ moment in their lives where they actively "hated" their shape. Though I'veВ had my fair share ofВ self-image issues in the past, at 26, I'm grateful to have reached aВ point where I accept my not-exactly-flat stomach and soft upper arms, knowing that anyone who's seeing me naked hopefully knows me well enough to appreciate that having a flawless, modelesque bodyВ isn't what I have to offer, but that I'm still a babe because of any number of other positive attributes,В including my cute boobsВ and even cuter personality.В This relaxed perspectiveВ of myВ body has madeВ wearing bikinis (and less than that) a whole lot less stressful.В
There is one thing that still makes me feel extremely uncomfortable to be nude, however: Bloating. Ever since entering my mid-20s, which also coincided withВ starting a plant-based diet (aka, lots of fibre), I've dealt with digestive issues, which can sometimes be painful and often lead to looking like I'm carrying a precious five-month-oldВ garbanzo bean baby in my belly. It's frequent that after I eat, I feel like I have a brick sitting inside my intestines for a few hours; and while I've tried de-bloating tactics like probiotics, ginger tea, and topical diuretics, I'd yet to narrow down a remedy that visibly worked as well as I wantedВ it toвЂ¦Getty
Then, a couple weeks ago, I triedВ acupuncture for the first time. My debut sessionВ was mostly directed at emotional de-stressing, which I didn't even know acupuncture could help with, and it was shockingly effective. But I also learned during my appointment thatВ placing needles along certain energy points of the body, or meridians, can be helpful for digestive and bloating issues. So, I decided to go back to see if it'd work.В
According to my practitioner Dr Youngs, who's been in the acupunctureВ business for 15 years, traditional Chinese medicine can resolve a number ofВ tummy issues, from acid reflux to painful gas,В and the treatment process will vary depending on a number of diagnostic assessments. One thingВ acupuncturists often do at the beginning of their sessions is examine patients' tongues (yes, their tongues) to get an idea of what's going on inside the body. The tongue is, as Youngs puts it, "an organ you can see." Different colours and patterns on the tongue can reveal what organ of the body is holding onto energy stagnation, causing bloat, and that will signal where the needles should be placed.
In my case, there seemed to be some stagnation inВ my spleen and stomach. Blocked energy in these areas was causing not only bloating, but also irritability, fatigue, andВ distressed bowel movements (TMI?). Youngs strategically placed aВ dozenВ or so needlesВ around my ankles, shins, and lower abdomen, the latter of which turnedВ pink at the base, meaning they were immediately inciting energy flow.В Positioning the needles at theseВ specific points aimed to break up the stagnation in my spleen and stomach to help relieve my particular breed of bloating.В
FYI: For me, the needles didn't hurt, though some patients do experience some dull pains during theirВ sessions. AfterВ the needlesВ were placed, I was left to lie flat with the lights off, zoning out to the sound of binaural beats for about 20 minutes.ВAmanda Montell
Let me cut straight to the chase: I am notВ exaggerating when I say that five minutesВ after the needles were placed, I felt the bloating in my gut, which normally feels stuck and immobile, physically start to shift and dissipate. By the time my session was over, I somehow didn't feel bloatedВ at all. I'd never had a digestive tea or diuretic work that quickly before.
Even after one session, I am totally convinced that acupuncture for bloating works in the short term; but the rumor is thatВ by regularly going once or twice a week for a month or so, especially if you supplement with certain Chinese herbs along the way, acupuncture can help with chronic bloating, too. YoungsВ names Hou Po (or magnolia bark) and Mu Xiang (or costus root) as two powerful herbs for treating everything from mild indigestion to IBS. These are herbs that traditional Chinese medicine practitioners often have on hand.
I would have never guessed an ancient Chinese practice involving needles andВ plants would make me look better naked, but I'll take that over a fad diet any day.
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