10 Most Bizarre Spa Treatments Around the World

That's a snake. You can actually get a "snake massage." We dare you.

As a culture, we underestimate the power of stress, either by not taking it seriously as a health risk or tallying up every trivial annoyance and dwelling on them. Stress, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. In fact, the human stress response has helped us survive as a species, alerting our minds to danger so we can remove ourselves from potentially harmful situations. It's time that we fully accept the fact that stress has very real, physical consequences on our bodies and our minds—so if you want to take a bath in coffee, wine, or green tea, you should friggin' go for it.

Healthline

In Japan, you can do just that in the Hakone Kowakien Yunessun spa, which markets itself as a "hot springs amusement park." In Greece, tiny fish have been eating the dead skin off humans' feet for 400 years. Extreme beauty treatments have existed for centuries, but when combined with the promise to relax you and provide an escape from life's stressors for just a brief moment, we get a world full of bizarre spa treatments.

Cupping (Yangzhou, China)

Metro

As an ancient form of eastern medicine, cupping is the practice of placing hot glass cups along your body, usually your back, in order to alleviate tension, reduce inflammation, soothe pain, or heighten your overall feeling of "wellness," that elusive quality that means very little but makes "lifestyle" companies like Goop so much money. As WebMD recounts, "Cupping therapy might be trendy now, but it's not new. It dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C. Now it's thought to actually open the blood vessels, inducing a feeling of relaxation.

Bathing in Wine

Beaujolais Season Starts At Open Air Wine Spa

Huff Post

At the "hot springs amusement park" in Japan, adults and children can bathe in (diluted) red wine. The antioxidants are thought to benefit the skin with anti-aging properties. Meanwhile, Yunessun also offers baths of coffee and tea, also purported to confer their own antioxidant-rich ambrosia to enhance relaxation and also health. But as Lonely Planet notes, "The resort's site claims that 'bathing in red wine is a rejuvenating treatment for the body' but as fun as it sounds, red wine can actually dry out your skin. So while splashing about in wine won't make you look younger, it sure as hell will make you feel younger and that's what really matters. Cheers to that."

Hammam (Morocco)

To some, it's a traditional cleansing ritual in a communal steam room, followed by a massage. To others, it's a crucible of will power and strength in which you are completely naked while a stranger bathes you aggressively in "scalding hot" water. One western visitor described the body scrub as follows: "I was led out by my hand and was laid down on a marble slab in another hot room where my body was exfoliated. When I say exfoliated, that's an understatement. It's more like having your skin peeled off with sandpaper. At one point I was sure that there was a trickle of blood pouring down my leg as she rubbed up and down my calf." But hey, some people are into (consensual) skinning, so go for it.

Swaddling (Japan)

Have you ever wanted to be suffocated by an Asian woman? Who hasn't, right? Starting in Japan, swaddling therapy is a straight-up Freudian treatment that will send your mind back to the stillness and peace of the womb by wrapping you in cloth. A Japanese midwife invented the therapy in 2015. According to Vice, "Nobuko Watanabe initially created the treatment to alleviate concerns of parents who worried that the swaddling of their infants—a practice known as Ohinamaki—might be leaving the babies feeling claustrophobic." The practice of Otonamaki (simply translated to "adult swaddling") promises the unique chance to "experience zero-gravity" and "become a different person," as well as other existential meditations on your identity, the existence of the human soul, the nature of time and space, why people were so angry when Starbucks' holiday cups turned red, and why boomers can't take a decent selfie. There's also some color therapy involved while whatever matronly Asian woman you pay to swaddle you rocks you gently from side to side.

Snail Facial (Japan)

Snail secretions (i.e. mucus) have already become a popular ingredient in Asian skincare. Snail facials just promise to be the purest and most direct hit with fresh slime. Claims that nutrients and natural antioxidants in snail mucus rejuvenate skin make this a unique experience to have, most easily found in Tokyo where it began. Prices range anywhere from $30 to $200, and while there are no known scientific studies that support its benefits, snail facials are not even a new idea. According to The Guardian, "Concoctions made from snail mucus are said to date back to ancient Greece, when the great physician Hippocrates reportedly crushed snails and sour milk as a cure for skin inflammations. In recent times, the French have turned this essence of escargot into assorted creams and lotions." If nothing else, we can only assume fresh snail mucus is cool to the touch? So embrace the power of the snail, and let Spongebob's pet crawl all over you, we guess.

Cryotherapy

US News Health

The promised benefits of exposing the body to extreme cold (via liquid nitrogen) for a limited amount of time include quick injury recovery, pain management, improved athletic performance, tissue repair, and quick weight loss. By exposing the body to temperatures as low as negative 240 degrees Fahrenheit, cryotherapy is the perfect mix of extreme and dangerous to become heavily popular. At least one woman has died in the United States while attempting to undergo cryotherapy. But the temptation is understandable: Imagine the futuristic set up, the thrill of danger, and the physical burst of energy that inevitably follows a session (that's because all the blood rushes to protect your internal organs and leaves you feeling pretty limbless, but when you step out all that blood rushing back to your arms and legs feels exhilarating-you know, because you're almost dying).

With that being said, there's no scientific evidence backing up the extreme lengths (and cost) of cryotherapy. In fact, a sports medicine expert, Dr. Jordan Metzl, told Fortune, "Icing or cooling the body is a great anti-inflammatory that helps speed recovery. That being said, to step from an ice bath to spending hundreds of dollars to get repeatedly cryogenically frozen is a big leap…without scientific backup." You're better off choosing "simply to move every single day."

Diamond Blowout (England)

Harrod's

For just $500, you can have diamond-infused shampoo and conditioner applied to your hair. As a result, your hair will be...mildly more shimmery. At Harrod's Urban Retreat Spa in London, they actually offer "diamond and meteorite dust-infused" products. But hey, at least you get a couple full-sized bottles to take home with you: Truffle by Fuente haircare promises to "leave your hair looking silken, shining with health and feeling light as air - just like our favorite red carpet starlets." By the way, do you know what "meteorite dust" looks like? Dust. It looks like dirty dust.

Fish Pedicure (Greece)

Tasty Thailand

Do you suffer from psoriasis and eczema on your lower legs and feet? Try a fish treatment: "Known colloquially as doctor fish, Garra rufa are native to Turkey and several Middle Eastern countries including Syria, Iran and Iraq. They are used almost exclusively for fish pedicures because of a survival tactic that enables them to thrive on dead scales and skin whenever their preferred food is scarce." That's right. Pay anywhere between $45 and $95, and about 100 fishies will nibble on your flaky feet.

Nightingale Facial (Japan)

Bird Poop.

The Telegraph

It's bird poop. For anti-aging and brightening miracles, you can pay over $200 to have very special bird poop smeared all over your face. Nightingale facials are said to have originated as a beauty secret of Japanese Geishas, who used the droppings of a very rare species of bird only found on the Japanese island of Kyushu to heal their skin from their heavy face make-up. You can find this treatment outside of Japan (with heftier prices due to importing the precious poop), or you could just...hydrate and wear sunscreen.

Snake Message (Phillipines)

Some people do it to conquer their fear of snakes. Some people do it because they're adrenaline junkies. Some people do it because snakes hold a place in their spiritual beliefs as divine creatures, as descendants of the serpent in the Garden of Eden and maybe because they poop really, really weird. For whatever reason, snake massages exist and lure people to be covered in boa constrictors for 30 minutes to an hour. But don't worry; the snakes are fed beforehand so they don't get hungry. As one New York Times reporter noted when she signed up for her one-on-den time, she received forms including the warning, "There are NO GUARANTEES that you will never get hurt by a snake. No one ever has in any of my work with my Snakes and clients."

Why do people do it? Simple: It feels like a really huge hug. "It was a lot calmer and peaceful than I thought it would be," said one client. As Serpentessa, the Snake Preistess of Poughkeepsie, NY informs her clients, "They tone and stimulate the vagus nerve in our body and that releases endorphins and oxytocin." Of course! An adult female boa constrictor can weigh between 20 and 30 pounds, inducing clients into a feeling of calm. "There was a point it felt like they were just hugging me around the shoulders," one of Serpentessa's clients said. "It just felt very calm – like I could fall asleep."

So really, it makes sense. Snake massages provide the comfort of a weighted blanket, except instead of a blanket...it's f*cking snakes.

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10 Endangered Animals to Weep Over

Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.


Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.



SPONSORED

Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!

Food & Drink

The Best Apps for Craft Beer Delivery

Try beers from all over the world–from your phone.

With breweries and distilleries out of business for the foreseeable future, your favorite beer may feel particularly out of reach this time of year, especially with the weather changing. But don't let quarantine suck all the fun out of summer. Luckily, thanks to technology, a lot of craft beer is now deliverable straight to your door step. Here are a few of the best apps to help make sure you stay up to date on the latest trendy brews.

Tavour

Tavour

Simplistic and elegant, Tavour allows users to easily fill up a box of beer over a period of time before shipping. The app offers more than 650 different breweries both local and national and is perfect for those who like to experiment. It's easy to use, and their menu rotates regularly so you and your beer never grow stale.

TapRM

TapRM

TapRM offers a wide range of both craft beers and hard seltzers. While based almost exclusively in New York City, the app offers fast, same day delivery from some of the best beer brands in the world. They also provide a unique selection of beers to help you find your new favorite. All you need to do is download the app and place your order!

Drizly

Offering a stark variety of craft beer, Drizly allows its users to mix and match 12-packs, sixers or by the bottle. Their guarantee is that they can have whatever you order delivered to your house in less than an hour. You can even schedule your delivery for a specific time, with each delivery taking around 20-40 minutes.

Saucey

Saucey takes delivery very seriously. When you order with them they guarantee that they'll deliver in 30-minutes or less, or they guarantee two day shipping. Also, beer aside, their entire liquor cabinet is also up for grabs. From tequila and whiksey, to vodka and wine, nothing is off the table for Saucey.

Beer Menus

BeerMenus

For those who enjoy strictly local beers, BeerMenus features a tap list from local bars and a broader stock list from your neighborhood beer store. With that, you can make sure to create a list of your favorite beers in your neighborhood, so that when they're in stock you can be ready to go.