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Gua Sha, Cupping, & Moxibustion

Gua Sha, Cupping, and Moxibustion are Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment options that are often used in conjunction with acupuncture, and may complement your experience with Co-Creations, Inc.

What is Gua Sha?

Large bone scraper tool being used ruing

Gua Sha is another common technique used in traditional Chinese medicine. This method in its multiple forms influenced medicine throughout Asia and European civilizations thousands of years ago. In areas such as Vietnam this technique is often called "coining" as the edges of coins rather than porcelain instruments are used on the body. Similar to Cupping, the skin is initially lubricated with medicinal oils. Then a smooth edge tool, similar to a spoon, is repeatedly stroked over the skin along the acupuncture meridians, or energetic pathways. With the pressured movement, there is an increase in microperfusion or surface circulation of the blood and Qi. Like Cupping Gua Sha creates temporary blemishing and Petechia on the skin. This bruising may initially cause concern, although the evidence of the treatment rapidly resolves and complete fading of ecchymosis occurs typically in three to five days. 

Gua Sha is very helpful in treating muscle pain, decreased range of motion, and a host of other conditions caused by an obstruction of Qi and circulation. The technique of Gua Sha is thought to stimulate the body's own anti- inflammatory and immune response. The popular techniques of Cupping and Gua Sha are often used in tandem with an acupuncture treatment to relieve pain and facilitate the smooth flow of blood and Qi. 

What is Cupping?


The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin, and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools. This action opens the pores of the skin, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, and balance and realign the flow of Qi. Cupping helps to eliminate obstructions, increase circulation in the tissue and energetic meridians, and create an avenue for toxins to be drawn from the body. 

Depending on the condition being treated, the cups are left in place for varying periods of time and several cups may be placed on the patient's body at the same time. Medicated oils and herbs are often applied to the skin before the suction cups are placed on the body.  Lubricating the skin enhances the openness of the pores, and allows the practitioner to freely move the cups over acupuncture points on the meridians or energetic pathways. The technique of Cupping may be used exclusively in an acupuncture treatment, or in combination with acupuncture needles.

While recent popularity has demonstrated the effectiveness of cupping on athletic injuries, pain management, and arthritis, in China it is used primarily to treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and other inflammatory issues. Additionally, Cupping can be used to promote lymphatic circulation, surgical recovery and scaring, sinusitis, headaches, sluggish colon, IBS, chronic pain, and muscular aches. 


* Cupping is not advised over open skin ulcers or to the abdominal or sacral region of a pregnant woman. People familiar with cupping would agree that the sensation is similar to a deep massage and the notable bruising which often arises from this course of treatment dissipates in 3 to 5 days.

Thanks to recent publicity, Cupping, one of the oldest techniques of traditional Chinese medicine, has gained significant attention. Although Cupping might seem like a fad due to its recent surge in its popularity during the Olympics, it has been used to treat various aliments in Eastern medicine for thousands of years.

Historically, cups made of bamboo and earthenware were used to promote healing of a broad range of medical ailments through increased blood flow. Today, acupuncturists use cups made of thick glass or plastic, which allow the acupuncturist to see the skin and evaluate the effects of treatment as it occurs. In a typical Cupping session, glass cups of various sizes are warmed using an alcohol pad or cotton ball, which is then lit on fire and placed inside the cup. The substance is burned inside the cup to remove all the oxygen, creating a vacuum or suction to aid in increasing blood flow to the area. As the substance burns, the cup is turned upside down and placed over a specific area of reported pain, congestion, or limited range of motion.

alternative health care,burning moxa on

What is Moxibustion?

Moxibustion is a form of heat therapy in which Moxa, also commonly known as Mugwort, is burned on or near the skin to stimulate acupuncture points. Moxa can be loose and formed into small cones, and can also be formed into a cigar-like stick which is held above the surface of the skin to emit warmth. Moxibustion serves to enhance the flow of Qi in the meridian, and potentially disperse pathogenic influences. Moxa is especially helpful for arthritic conditions and cold patterns. Although there are smokeless varieties of Moxa, true Moxa does produce a lingering odor, which some liken to the smell of marijuana.  

Moxibustion does not cause pain, but rather a deep sense of warmth and invigoration. 

Often times acupuncture points are both needled and stimulated via moxibustion. 

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