What Is K-Wellness? The 5 Wellness Rules Korean Women Live By
If you are looking to restore balance to your overall health and wellness, look no further. K-wellness has everything you need to target all that ails you, from unhealthy gut and unhealthy skin to poor sleep and stress.
K-beauty has been growing in popularity over the past decade, part of the Korean Wave that has seen the global influence of South Korean pop culture grow in influence since the 1990s. Korean beauty products are lauded for being innovative and unexpected: real ingredients that have been used in K-beauty products over the years include donkey's milk, snail mucus, pig collagen and bee venom. You can also thank K-beauty for your longstanding obsession with sheet masks, cushion compacts and BB creams.
Now, more people are looking to K-wellness as a way to improve not just the outside but also the inside. Where K-beauty focuses on innovative skincare products, K-wellness is all about health from the inside out, often using unusual natural ingredients to target physical concerns, with the goal being external and internal health systems existing in perfect balance.
Grace Yoon is the founder of US-based K-wellness brand Qi Alchemy, which offers a range of "herbal pearls"—vials of adaptogenic super herbs that promise to alleviate stress and muscle tension, and restore balance in the gut. Speaking to Organic Authority, Yoon explains the concepts behind K-wellness:
"Korean Wellness ... has its roots in the concept of Qi—an ancient Eastern practice in achieving overall wellness and balance in your life. Koreans are always striving to achieve Qi which can be attained in many forms in traditional Korean medicine but also [utilises] skincare, diet, herbal remedies, exercise, and sleep."
Qi, pronounced "gi" in Korean, is the central concept underpinning traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), and can be likened to prana in Indian culture or pneuma in Greek culture. It's all about balance. The word "Qi" specifically refers to the vital energy force that must flow freely in any healthy living thing.
If you are fatigued, experience digestion issues, or have allergies, or keep getting sick, K-wellness says you don't have enough Qi, or your Qi is disrupted. If you are irritable, stressed or tense, you might have too much Qi.
Read on to find out how to regulate your Qi and introduce the principals of K-wellness in your own practice.
In Korean wellness, acupuncture is one of the ways to work on restoring flow and balance to your Qi. "From a Western medicine standpoint, acupuncture helps to lower cortisol levels, the stress hormone," Dr Debbie Kung explains to Qi Alchemy. "Once the stress hormone is lowered, the body isn’t in a state of inflammation so it can start healing itself."
Look for adaptogens, which are herbs, roots and mushrooms that can help to lower cortisol levels and facilitate a state of wellness (aka Qi). Adaptogens are commonplace in Eastern practices such as Korean, Chinese and Ayurveda traditional medicine. Add Holy Basil, lemon balm, reishi mushrooms and St John's-wort to your grocery list.
Develop good habits
This one applies in general, but especially to eating. One way to develop healthier eating happens is to abandon foods that don't support your immune system and replace them with foods that can help with fatigue and stress. Make friends with sesame oil—it's loaded with everything required for such as antioxidants (which help repair cell damage), vitamin E (vital for healthy skin), copper (a mineral with anti-inflammatory properties) and unsaturated fats (good for heart health).
Take a spa weekend
While you might spend a few hours at a Japanese onsen, going to a traditional Korean bathhouse is at least an all-day experience. Korean spas, called "jjimjilbang" offer a variety of spa features, such as hot tubs, showers, saunas and massage tables, and are intended for relaxation and social interaction. In some Korean spas you can even spend the night.
It's a universal truth that getting enough restful sleep is essential to health and wellness. Being tired is a hallmark sign of Qi deficiency, according to Healthline, so to balance your Qi, get between seven and nine hours each night. Establish good sleep hygiene and do what you can to get to relax leading up to sleep time.