Cupping, Gua Sha and Moxibustion
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes, including to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage. Cupping was developed thousands of years ago and though the techniques have modernized, the original philosophy remains the same.
Cupping involves placing glass, bamboo or plastic jars on the skin and creating a vacuum by suctioning out the air. The underlying tissue is raised, or sucked, partway into the cup. The purpose of cupping is to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove “heat” and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.
Gua sha meaning “scraping sha-bruises”, is a traditional Chinese medical treatment in which the skin is scraped to produce light bruising. Practitioners believe gua sha releases unhealthy elements from injured areas and stimulates blood flow and healing. Gua sha is a healing technique of traditional East Asian medicine.
Gua sha is defined as instrument-assisted unidirectional press-stroking of a lubricated area of the body surface to intentionally create transitory therapeutic petechiae called ‘sha’ representing extravasation of blood in the subcutis. Modern research shows the transitory therapeutic petechiae produce an anti inflammatory and immune protective effect that persists for days following a single Gua sha treatment accounting for the immediate relief that patients feel from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, wheeze, nausea and vomiting etc, and why Gua sha is effective in acute and chronic internal organ disorders including liver inflammation in hepatitis.
Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which dried plant materials called “moxa” are burned on or very near the surface of the skin. The intention is to warm and invigorate the flow of Qi in the body and dispel certain pathogenic influences. Moxa is usually made from the dried leafy material of Chinese mugwort, but it can be made of other substances as well. Practitioners generally hold a burning moxa stick close to, but not touching, the surface of the skin, and is held about an inch or two above the surface of the skin until the area reddens and becomes suffused with warmth.
Moxibustion can help relieve pain due to injury, arthritis, digestive problems and irregular elimination, gynecological and obstetrical conditions, and protection against cold and flu strains.