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Natural Wellness Tips From My Korean Mom

Throughout my life, my Korean mother has been a wealth of knowledge on holistic methods and Eastern medicine remedies that I have now incorporated into my daily routine. Her all-natural secrets (that I grew up questioning) have now trained me to nurture my health while being conscientious of my body’s needs. Here are some of my favorite wellness tips from her:

1. Choose your pillow carefully


I use a buckwheat pillow that my mom brought back for me from Korea. While most of us envision an ideal headrest to look and feel like a soft marshmallow, sleeping on such a collapsible cushion provides very little support. This version is filled with buckwheat husks (which look like pea-sized wooden balls) that come together to cradle your head when it touches down, easing any pressure on your spine. Although initially a little awkward to get used to because of its unconventional texture, the pillow is actually very comfortable and its ergonomic benefits may even help you catch more z’s. Plus, the subtle rustle of the husks makes for a surprisingly comforting sound.

2. Seaweed is the ultimate superfood


Before the fad of juicing, my mom was pushing greens on me, and fortunately I’ve always loved them. So when she turned me onto raw seaweed—not the dried, salted version that wraps our sushi—I was fascinated. One of the most overlooked green foods, algae is packed with nutrients like vitamins A & C and is a source of calcium, iodone (important to maintaining a healthy thyroid, a gland that helps produce and regulate hormones), iron, and antioxidants. I like to have it plain first thing in the morning as my green intake or as an afternoon snack with Korean gochujang (chili paste). Tip: Make sure to eat in moderation as hyperthyroidism can occur if excessive amounts of iodine are introduced to the body.

3. Find that pressure point.

From a very young age, I would frequently get headaches that often were a result of allergies, stress, or even indigestion. Thankfully, my mom had a way to help alleviate them using acupressure. Similar to acupuncture, acupressure can help reduce pain and restore balance in your body. And you don’t need needles! Her remedy was to apply firm pressure to the triangle-shaped fleshy area between your index finger and thumb, otherwise known as “hegu” in Chinese. Of more than 300 pressure points, “hegu” has been known to be one of the most useful in clinical practice for relieving pain, especially headaches and dental aches. Start by pinching the area with your opposite hand’s index finger on top and thumb below, and gradually add pressure. If it hurts, you’re doing it right. Just make sure to continue rubbing out the area and in 20 to 30 minutes, you’ll find the pain has decreased.

4. Give yourself the best at-home massage


Made from 100% natural Paulownia wood and hand crafted in South Korea, this strange-looking half-cylinder has become my most therapeutic friend. My mother gave this to my sister and me, and we’ve been using them for the past few years. Not only does it release neck and back tension, but when used correctly it’s a no-fuss massage that’s easy enough to do at home. Start by lying on your back and placing the wood piece (round side up) under your upper back (where the elastic of your bra would be), and lay for 5 more minutes. Move it further down to your lower back right above your hip and stay for another 5 minutes. Slide the piece down to your ankles and gently tap the back of your ankles at a staccato rhythm on it for 5 more minutes. Lastly, place the wood piece under your neck. Rotate your neck left and right for 5 minutes. After pulling it out from under you, you’ll feel relieved of most of the tension in your body. I say it’s better than a massage chair.

+What are your favorite natural, wellness tips? What natural Korean beauty products do you recommend?

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