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Chinese Medicine…in your tights?

(Photo: ITEM m6)

First we had smartphones. Then smart watches. And now, it seems, we have smart legwear.

“Intelligent legwear meets wellness technology” is the tagline for ITEM m6, a new line of socks, tights, leggings, and shapewear developed by a high-tech German manufacturer of medical compression products. In addition to holding everything in—a la Spanx—the products are said to use compression to stimulate blood and oxygen circulation.

Then there’s the Chinese medicine connection. The line’s name refers to a pressure point near the ankle, which its offerings are meant to simulate. “The result is increased blood circulation, boosted energy, reduced stress, and an overall feeling of lighter legs,” a company press release says.

Curious to see if the legwear could, in fact, rival the effects of a latte-yoga class combo, I tried the ITEM m6 Body+ Effect tights ($88 at, which conveniently arrived on the same day as a pair of Hue Super Opaque Control Top tights I’d ordered on Amazon (~$12).

My silhouette looked about the same in both, though the ITEM m6 tights felt considerably more snug—more like full-leg Spanx or the compression socks I wear on long-haul flights (so much so, that by the end of the evening, taking them off felt like a bit of a relief).

They were also considerably heavier, which meant they were more opaque and warmer than the Hue tights—a definite plus. I kept the m6s on for a date and felt energized through the evening, but whether it was the tights or the company, it’s hard to say.

The next day, I took my m6s and the company’s marketing materials to my acupuncturist, Noah Rubinstein, a co-director of the YinOva Center in New York City and former Traditional Chinese Medicine instructor, for his take.

“I’ve never heard of the m6 point or the m6 meridian,” he told me. (A rep for ITEM m6 later clarified in an e-mail that it’s known as the s6 point in the United States, also Spleen 6 or Sanyinjiao.)

ITEM m6 socks
(Photo: ITEM m6)

And that point, Rubinstein does know well.

“We use [it] for a lot of things,” he told me. It’s the intersection of the spleen, liver, and kidney channels and, according to the textbook Rubinstein copied for me, “its actions and indications are extraordinarily broad, and it is a primary point in the treatment of many digestive, gynecological, sexual, urinary, and emotional disorders.” In practice, it can be used to help ease menstrual cramps, stimulate energy flow to the GI tract, and lesson bloating.

Sounds great. But how, exactly, do the m6s stimulate it? Rather than a small bead in the fabric, which I expected, they have the strongest compression all around the ankle, which raises the question of how accurately it can truly target that one point.

But they will work well for slimming bloated ankles, and kept me both warm and stylish. Seems plenty smart to me. —Ann Abel