A Picture of Health

  • Styling ZINN ZHOU
  • Words ROBERT ITO

Xiaopeng Yuan photographs the world’s weirdest wellness cures.

Issue 47


Arts & Culture, Fashion

  • Styling ZINN ZHOU
  • Words ROBERT ITO


According to northern Italian lore, hay bathing began 300 years ago when local farmers fell asleep in an Alpine meadow in the Dolomites and woke up the following morning miraculously refreshed and pain-free. It must have been that sweet, scratchy hay, they figured, and hay bathing (or, in German, heubad) was born. A century ago, practitioners were placed in a pit in the ground and covered in heated heaps of the stuff. Today, spa-goers in Austria and Italy luxuriate in tubs filled with the finest mountain grasses and medicinal herbs, which have been soaked in hot water beforehand. Hay bathers are basically stewing in a tub of hot, wet grass—and no amount of soul-healing lavender and lady’s mantle is going to make that sound particularly pleasurable. Even so, fans of the practice swear by it, and claim it can help with a host of ills, from sciatica and rheumatism to obesity and digestive distress.

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