Gua Sha, Cupping, and Moxibustion are techniques that are often used to enhance the effects of Acupuncture. These techniques may be used in conjunction with acupuncture treatments or may be used on their own.
Cupping: Cupping is a modality of Chinese Medicine where glass cups are gently applied to various areas of the body by a mild suction. Common uses of cupping include releasing muscle tension, reducing inflammation, and increasing blood flow to relieve localized pain. To achieve the desired effect, either stationary cupping, when cups are left in one location for 5-10 minutes, or sliding cupping, when the practitioner slides the cups in a certain area, may be used. Cups can be applied anywhere on the body, but are most commonly used on the back. In recent years, cupping has become popular for Olympic athletes, and marks from cupping sessions can be seen on the backs of many competitive swimmers.
Gua Sha: “Gua Sha” comes from the Chinese word for “scraping.” As the name suggests, this method of treatment requires the practitioner to “scrape” the skin using a smooth-edged tool made out of jade, porcelain, or other smooth material. Oil or lotion is applied to the skin, and the practitioner uses mild pressure to repeatedly stroke the area being treated. After a few minutes, a “sha” should be seen. “Sha” is the term for the pink, red, or even purple marks on the skin from the release of heat and stagnant energy, and the free-flow of blood to the area. Commonly used for chronic pain, tension, and inflammation, gua sha is also used to improve circulation, reduce fevers, reduce the duration of colds and flu, and improve migraine symptoms. A specific type of facial gua sha is performed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, increase hydration, and brighten skin.
Moxibustion: The use of moxibustion, commonly referred to as “moxa,” is common whenever cold symptoms are present in the body. Moxa can be placed around the handle of a needle, directly or indirectly on the skin, or held a few inches from the skin to achieve the desired effect. This therapy involves burning dried mugwort, called “moxa,” in order to warm specific areas of the body. The warmed qi and blood are able to improve circulation and bring warmth to the rest of the body. Moxa treatments are typically performed to reduce arthritis, improve digestive problems, improve gynecological conditions, and as a preventative measure against colds and flu by strengthening the immune system.