Cupping is a traditional folk remedy that has been found in various form in many different countries for centuries. In ancient times, Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners used cups made of bamboo, animal horn or brass. Today, cups made of glass, plastic or silicone are the most common.
How does it work? Cupping is a technique used alone or in conjunction with acupuncture. The cups, once placed on the skin, pull blood to the region to stimulate healing. Cupping can stretch tight muscles and fascia, help the tissue develop new blood flow and reduce inflammation. It may also release toxins and remove blood stagnation.
Cupping is generally painless and may be as or more effective than massage for releasing muscular tension.
Glass Cupping: Heat is used to create a partial vacuum inside the glass cup. The cup is then applied to the skin and, as the air cools inside the cup, the suction created draws the skin up into the cup.
Plastic Cupping: The cup is placed on the skin and a suctioning device is used to remove the air from inside the cup. This creates a vacuum and pulls the skin up inside the cup.
Stationary Cupping: A number of glass cups are placed on the body over specific acupuncture points. Sometimes single cups are applied to smaller areas or on specific areas of tenderness. Cups are left in place without movement for 5-15 minutes. This treatment will leave dark purplish, circular marks that look like bruises on the skin. This is normal and the marks will fade away in about one week.
Moving Cupping: Oil or another lubricant is applied to the skin and rim of the glass cup. The cup is then moved over larger, flat body surfaces like the back or thigh. The cup is moved back and forth over the skin surface for 5–15 minutes. Moving cupping causes some redness but generally does not leave any dark purple marks.
Flash Cupping: The glass cup is alternatively placed, lifted and replaced on the skin in rapid succession. This produces many small suctions and the procedure is continued until the skin under the cupping area is reddened.
Cupping with Acupuncture: An acupuncture needle is inserted into the appropriate acupuncture point and the Qi sensation is obtained. Then, a cup is prepared and placed over the needle on the skin surrounding it. The cup and needle are left in place for 5-15 minutes. This method has been found in China to be particularly effective in the treatment of rheumatism.
• Back, neck and other musculoskeletal pain; improving circulation
• Upper respiratory disorders such as common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis, opens the chest and benefits the lungs
• Facial numbness following stroke or Bell’s Palsy (Flash Cupping)
• Painful menstruation
For additional information about cupping:
Gua Sha is an Asian healing technique utilized by practitioners of Traditional Medicine both in the clinic and at home. Gua means “scraping” and “sha” is a reddish, elevated skin rash or petechiae. Gua Sha involves scraping lubricated skin in pressured strokes with a round-edged tool to produce the “sha” or petechiae. The sha rash generally disappears completely in two or three days. The procedure is not painful.
Gua Sha is mainly used on the Yang surfaces of the body: back, neck, shoulders, limbs and buttocks. It is occasionally done on the chest and abdomen. The technique eliminates blood stagnation and promotes normal circulation and metabolic processes. Patients may experience immediate relief from pain, stiffness or other discomforts after gua sha.
• Musculoskeletal pain and stiffness
• Common cold, bronchitis, asthma
• Disorders involving stagnation of Qi (energy) and blood
For more information on Gua Sha:
The Science of Gua Sha, Arya Nielsen, PhD
Moxibustion is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique used to expel cold and warm the meridians, strengthen the blood and stimulate the flow of Qi. It is useful in the treatment of disease and for maintenance of health. The method involves burning an herb, mugwort, over particular acupuncture points. The skin will feel warm to the touch.
Moxibustion and Pregnancy: In 1998, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that as many as 75% of women with breech presentations before childbirth had fetuses that rotated to the normal position after receiving moxibustion at a specific acupuncture point on the foot.
• Rheumatic pain
• Vomiting or abdominal pain
• Certain gynecological disorders; breech presentation in pregnancy
For more information on Moxibustion:
Moxibustion for Breech Presentation, Karen Pohlner