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Who needs the gym when you can lock yourself into an herbal steam bath?

Instead of crash dieting, try this widely-practised form of TCM before a big event.

A few weeks ago, my friend and I were locked in discussion on how to lose weight quickly and painlessly. We wandered onto the topic of the herbal steam bath, which I had never heard of before our conversation. A few days later, another friend mentioned the practice and invited me to try it out with her. I wasn’t too keen on the idea, but two conversations about this specific topic within a week? It must be a sign.

A quick search on Google brings up lots of results on herbal steaming therapy, with multiple venues across Hong Kong offering the service. If this supposedly effortless slimming concept has your interests piqued, well, I took one for the team and did the research for you.

herbal steam bath

What is a herbal steam bath?

Herbal steam bath or herbal steaming therapy is no new concept. It’s been practised as a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine for over 3,000 years and is one of the oldest forms of relaxation therapies. And it’s more than just stepping into a shared sauna room and cooking yourself silly for an hour or two — with herbal steaming therapy, you get your own little wooden box, where a customised mix of herbs is boiled in concentrated amounts for your body to soak up.

What are the benefits of a herbal steam bath?

If you paid attention during biology class, you’ll know that heat — from the steam, in this case — triggers a thermoregulation response in the body. This means blood vessels dilate, leading to improved blood flow and more nutrients and oxygen delivered to the skin cells. After a steaming session, even without any herbal ingredients, you’ll walk out with a healthy glow thanks to all the sweating. I don’t know about you, but I love it when the results are immediately visible so I know I put my money to good use.

But wait, there’s more! The addition of medicinal herbs and oils takes the process to a whole new level. It provides targeted stimulation to the skin and muscles that a natural healing response; acts as a catalyst on specific joints to improve muscle and nerve functions; opens up the pores and flushes out gross stuff like sebum and blackheads; and reduces the body’s production of cortisol, a stress hormone, so you can chill out (much needed, literally and figuratively in this Hong Kong heat). Oh, and most importantly — for me, at least — it helps increase metabolism to shed those pesky calories.

Where to try herbal steaming therapy in Hong Kong:

  • New Born Beauty 藏紅天, 2/F, Jaffe Building, 518 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2319 1138
  • Health Touch 足道, Basement, 513 Hennessy Road Wellable Commercial Building, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2882 3433
  • HEla 喜樂, 4/F, 15 Lan Fong Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 6777 1048
  • 傳女蒸, 1/F, 524 Jaffe Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, +852 2348 9990
(Images: Hans Neleman / Getty, Светлана Зайцева / Getty)

Charmaine Ng


Charmaine enjoys eating steamed broccoli and knocking back cups of spearmint tea, all in the name of health. Covering art, beauty and music :)

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