The Benefits of an Acu-Organ Detox and Abdominal Massage
  • May 11, 2017
  • [Disclaimer: I received the acu-organ detox massage at exhale spa free of charge. As always, we only write about the places, things and experiences we love and want to share.]


    For years, I was that person who asked for the deepest of deep tissue massages when I came into a spa. The element of relaxation in the spa environment is nice, but I typically make an appointment not for the relaxation, but for someone to hurt me just enough for me to feel like my overworked, exhausted muscles are getting some serious therapy. I viewed the massage experience as beneficial entirely for my body, not so much for my mind. That is, until I tried an acu-organ detox massage.

    Don’t worry, I had to Google it, too. It’s a type of acupuncture therapy that infuses eastern healing techniques into an experience that exhale spa calls an “acu-organ detox.” The 60-minute session is comprised of a few techniques together, each with their own specific benefits for the body and mind.

    Lexi Hagenson, licensed acupuncturist at exhale spa in Chicago’s Gold Coast, explained to me I could expect “more healthy movement in the digestive tract (as in less constipation if that is an issue), a temporarily flatter-feeling stomach and a boost in energy.”

    acu-organ detox

    Step one: Acupuncture

    Lexi was in the room with me the whole time. She placed acupuncture needles around my hands, feet, ears and stomach. Then she turned a heating lamp on over my stomach and, strangely, I felt instantly more calm.

    If you’ve never had acupuncture before, it’s worth experiencing all by itself at least once. Some say they have life changing effects from it, others have simply found it relaxing. I do believe that your mindset going into it has a huge impact on how beneficial the experience ultimately is for you. I happen to trust that the process is a healing one, and I’ve had great experiences every time I’ve gone in the past.

    Step two: Tuning Forks

    While I love acupuncture, I’d never done acupuncture plus something else. This treatment uses tuning forks as the next step in the process, and I had no idea what I was experiencing while it was happening – all I knew is that it was super relaxing. I chose to keep my eyes closed and just let it happen and ask later what Lexi was actually doing. It turns out, the tuning forks she was using were vibrationally charged tools she placed on the needles to deepen the sensation of relaxation. Hey, fine by me. It was extremely calming.

    Step three: Abdominal massage

    After removing the needles from the abdominal area, the next step is abdominal massage – the piece of the treatment that most intrigued me. I’d never thought to ask a massage therapist to work on my stomach before, and that’s because abdominal massage is far less incorporated into western massage therapy techniques. However, it is practiced in many other cultures not only for relaxation but because it has known health benefits.

    “People might not be aware that abdominal massage can alleviate chronic digestive complaints,” Lexi said.

    This piece of the treatment only lasts a few minutes, but the combination of castor oil – which also aids with digestion – in conjunction with the massage left me feeling incredibly relaxed.

    So all in all, who is an acu-organ detox massage meant for?

    It’s meant for anyone, really.

    “Abdominal massage helps soften and tonify the organs in the abdomen so they can function better, and it moves stagnation in the digestive tract, thereby lessening bloating,” Lexi said.

    Depending on the degree of digestion-related problems someone is experiencing, clients can get this treatment as often as every couple of weeks to once a season.

    On top of making a concerted effort to detox and cleanse the body like this, you can continue the process at home by temporarily eliminating common inflammatory foods – gluten, sugar and dairy – to take stress off the digestive system, Lexi recommends, which allows it to do its job better.

    An acu-organ detox may have been what I needed; I felt much more relaxed after leaving than when I came in. It also definitely got my digestive track moving; I probably could have used a warning about the continued cleansing that would ensue later on that day (insert red-faced emoji).

    Have you tried a unique spa treatment that you love? Let us know in the comments! 

    About Maggie Umberger

    Maggie moved to Chicago in 2014 from North Carolina, a proud Tar Heel at heart. She began her career in advertising but was equally passionate about her fitness endeavors, and ended up spending as much time instructing yoga and other types of fitness as much as in her advertising job. Now she works full-time with aSweatLife to continue to grow our community of amazing fellow fitness junkies in Chicago. And when she’s not running around with Jeana making #Sweatworking happen or instructing corporate and private yoga classes, you can find her leading bootcamp classes at ENRGi Fitness and vinyasa classes at Bare Feet Power Yoga and Yoga Six.