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Desert sands working magic on aches, pains

Updated: 2016-08-08 07:20

Desert hikers in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region who come across mummies from ancient civilizations are being confronted by another obstacle-human heads sticking out of the sand.

People from across China flock to the region to bury themselves in the sand between June and August for one good reason.

Turpan's hot desert sands contain minerals that are believed to provide a cure for rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis.

The term "hot" cannot adequately describe the surface temperature in the Kumtag Desert near Turpan. It is one of the hottest places in China, with the sand temperature reaching 80 C, compared with an average summer temperature in the area of between 38C and 42 C.

At 4 pm, Gao Jialing lay in Kahrimalar, a sand dune in the Kumtag desert, with her body covered in sand. "My sister told me the desert in Turpan can cure my rheumatism," she said.

The sands are believed to work their magic between 2 pm and 5 pm, and Kahrimalar can attract up to 1,000 people during this period.

Gao, 48, from Hunan province, has suffered from rheumatism, which causes severe pain, for many years. But she initially doubted her sister's suggestion of the desert cure when she decided to try it in 2014.

"After about two weeks' of treatment, I suddenly felt that my arms and legs were not as weak as before," Gao said.

Seeing the positive effects the treatment has, she now travels to Turpan from Hunan every year around July and says the pain caused by rheumatism has been greatly reduced.

Sand treatment is part of traditional Uygur medication, and the therapy center in Kahrimalar is run by Turpan Uygur Medicine Hospital.

Shatar Kurban, head of the hospital, said: "The sand grains in the Turpan desert, especially in Kahrimalar, are black and relatively large so they can absorb more heat, which helps the patients to detoxify. The heat and more than 20 trace elements in the sands can help people to get rid of the 'chill' in their bodies."

Contact the writers at maoweihua@chinadaily.com.cn

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