I am a Board-Certified Family Medicine physician specializing in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine and I highly recommend vaginal steams. There. I’ve said it and I’m not afraid to say it again.
Not only have I had the privilege and pleasure of experiencing v-steams myself, but I am also responsible for getting the first Korean v-steamer, or chai-yok, to the Red Tent back in October of 2012. My wonderful father hand-carried this precious cargo on a plane all the way from Korea, so that women across the country and beyond could benefit from this ancient medical practice.
While v-steaming was already gaining popularity in the US for those in the know, Gwyneth Paltrow propelled the vaginal steam to the internet media forefront with her recent post on GOOP. Can anyone say full steam ahead? Her post then birthed much controversy over the safety and efficacy of vaginal steams.
The medical experts want to be cautious and look toward scientific evidence to support or advise against the usage of v-steams. I love science, but here’s what I have to say about that. Remember not too long ago when we used to widely recommend that women use hormone replacement therapy, because of all the science claiming the benefits of it? Science is not perfect, and as a medical doctor and a practitioner of acupuncture, I have to go with the evidence of practices that continue to work well after thousands of years of existence.
So, why steam the vagina with herbs? In my experience, the v-steam happens to be the most potent way to deliver one of the most potent Chinese herbs to one of the most potent areas of the body. No wonder there is so much fear! It heals and empowers women!
Ren 1, conception vessel 1, is the main acupuncture point located in the perineum, and it is the meeting point of the three most powerful yin acupuncture channels in the body also called “Meeting of Yin” the most meaningful yin balancing, female point in the body.
According to Chinese medicine, moxa (mugwort leaf) is best used by burning it and allowing the body to absorb the heat, smoke or steam from it. Taking mugwort leaf orally does not provide all the same benefits as heating it does. This warming procedure, called moxibustion, can be more effective than acupuncture for certain conditions, especially when one needs to strengthen and move her Qi, blood and/or overall energy. Moxa (Mugwort/Artemesia) is one of the most invigorating herbs that can actually safely and quickly give you more Qi, or life force.
The vaginal steam is an ingenious method of delivering this powerful herb in its best form in a comfortable and intensely relaxing way to treat and prevent a wide variety of conditions.
I tell my patients to try any therapy at least once, as long as it is safe, doesn’t hurt or cost too much. Then, they have the direct experience of knowing whether they like it or not, if it helps, and if they want to continue with more. I believe that is the best evidence you can give yourself — your own, personal proof. Your body never lies to you. Not only are vaginal steams safe and tested by the tincture of time, they also tend to feel really good and can even take you to another level mentally, emotionally and spiritually. But don’t just take my expert opinion on it. Try it yourself and see. Trust your own judgement and intuition. Don’t give in to fear or hype. Empower yourself to feel even more empowered. Be your own personal investigator, scientist and healer. Then you can see for yourself how hot this therapy really is.
Christine Shim, MD
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