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Accupuncture? Stars are getting the point

WHAT HEALTH HABIT DO Western screen stars Robert Downey, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston have in common? All three love acupuncture and cupping to improve their well-being. These stars, constantly in the public eye, have important reasons to look happy and healthy.

Downey, who starred as Tony Stark in Marvel’s Iron Man and The Avengers movie series, is a particularly devout fan of acupuncture. He has credited his good health to traditional Chinese medicine in general and said it has had a profound impact in all areas of his life for many years. 

(Our picture at the top shows Iron Man staring not at a new arm design, but at a list of acupuncture points.)

Downey once said every discipline that he has employed that has its roots in the Chinese tradition has worked, and that is what he is really drawn to. 

“When things work, they are really worth putting your time and energy behind,” he said.


Acupuncture and cupping have become favourite therapies among Hollywood celebrities. Why are the therapies so sought-after?

Initially awful to think about (who wants to be stabbed with needles?) acupuncture has now been widely recognized as a safe and effective method to treat a wide variety of ailments and medical conditions. Used in China for thousands of years, it aims to re-establish balance and restore better levels of health and vitality. 

Traditional Chinese medicine is holistic in its approach and one of the crucial concepts is that a vital force of life, known as Qi in Chinese, surges through the body, and any imbalance to Qi can cause disease and illness in body.

Harmony between human and natural environment

Under traditional Chinese medicine, humanity and nature are inseparable, as is the relationship between humans and the natural environment, and also the links between the internal organs of the human body.

L0035005 Acupuncture points and meridians. The arm. Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images Acupuncture points and meridians. The arm taken from I-tsung chiu-chien, ‘The Golden Mirror of Medicine’ a compendium of medical works edited by Wu Chien and first published in 1742 19th Century Published: – Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0

The unity of humanity and nature in traditional Chinese medicine embodies the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism. Chinese medicine stipulates that man and nature have an integrated relationship of mutual inclusion and connection. 

Humans’ five zang (heart, liver, spleen, lung and kidney) and six fu (organs), plus the meridians, vital energy, blood, and other organizational systems inside the body, should be integrated with the natural environment.

Acupuncture to re-balance energy flow

Acupuncture is based on the belief that energy flows through the body in channels called meridians. By inserting needles into acupoints along these meridians, energy flow will re-balance. Acupuncture can restore the flow of Qi, and so restore health. It is believed that when Qi does not flow freely through the body, it can cause illnesses.

Nowadays, acupuncture is widely recognized by many government bodies as a medical system with benefits.

The World Health Organization has listed numerous conditions and diseases that acupuncture treats and the ancient therapy is respected as a potent treatment method.

Cupping therapy stimulates blood flow

Apart from acupuncture, cupping has effects of warming the meridians, thereby enhancing Qi movement and dissolving swell and stopping pain.

Heating the air in the cup produces low pressure inside, enabling the cup to suck on the skin with an effect to increase blood flow to achieve a therapeutic outcome. The suction effect created by the cups works by pulling the blood onto the surface, promoting sterile inflammation, purging out toxins without causing pain to the body. 

Though theory of traditional Chinese medicine has a long history, it has maintained its vitality in the prevention and treatment of modern diseases and  achieves new medical miracles. Chinese traditional medicine has worked as a way for Downey, Paltrow and other Hollywood superstars’ method to maintain their health and wellness.

It is crucial for them in the spotlight to always look their best and perform at their peak. Perhaps this has driven more celebrities to use acupuncture and other Chinese medicine therapies for physical well-being.

Read more about Chinese culture by clicking here. 

Image at the top includes element from Walt Disney Co; acupuncture arm by Dimitrius, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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