Gua Sha began in prehistoric times and was adopted into the Traditional Chinese Medical practice. Gua Sha is a technique that uses palpitation of the skin and instruments with rounded edges to scrape the skin. The scraping brings Sha (blood stagnation) to the surface leaving red marks that fade in 3 to 4 days. The skin is lubricated before it is scraped in a downward stroking pattern.
Gua Sha is often used to treat acute situations and can treat chronic (long-term) illness that involves pain as well. It is used to relieve pain, fever, cough, nausea, and chills. Gua Sha is commonly applied to the upper back, shoulders, neck, and limbs. Upper respiratory aliments such as flu, colds, bronchitis, and asthma can be treated or prevented with this Eastern Asian technique.
For more info on gua sha, see the additional resources page.
Fire cupping is a 2,500-year-old method to increase the circulation of Qi and blood. Practitioners use fire cupping to treat breathing difficulties such as asthma, cough, and chest tightness. Fire cupping is also used to treat cold and flu symptoms, gastrointestinal difficulties, menstrual pain, neck and shoulder pain, low back pain, and sciatica.
Evolving from the use of horns and bamboo cups, the technique currently uses glass jars or magnetic suction devices.
When using the glass jar fire cupping technique, liniment (an oil-type substance) is put onto the area of the skin to be treated. Using long tongs, a practitioner takes a cotton ball that has been soaked in 91% alcohol and lights it on fire. The cotton ball is moved inside the jar to remove the oxygen, then the fire is taken out and the cup is placed on the client’s skin where the liniment is applied. A vacuum is created and the skin is sucked up into the jar. The cup stays on the skin for 5-15 minutes, though the practitioner may slide the cups along the skin to increase circulation in the surrounding areas. The skin will become dark red or purple in color as blood is moved to the area of the suction. The client may have circular bruises that last for several days. Symptoms will be reduced or alleviated after treatment.
Many clients enjoy being fire cupped. It is neither painful nor dangerous. The sensation may feel like your skin is being pulled tightly and you can feel the suction. The jar will feel warm when it contacts the skin, when the jar is slid over your skin it may be sensitive but not uncomfortable.
One should keep the treated area covered and warm (for example wear a scarf if your neck was treated) and avoid exposure to wind and cold after treatment. Fire cupping should only be done by a trained professional.
For more info on fire cupping, see the additional resources page.
Moxibustion (Moxa) is a traditional form of Chinese Therapy that has been practiced for thousands of years as an adjunct to bodywork and acupuncture. The practitioner burns mugwort (a member of the chrysanthemum family) to bring heat to the area of the body being treated. Moxa can be used to calm emotions and to treat conditions such as pain, spasms, digestion difficulties, and menstrual difficulties. Moxibustion increases red and white cell counts, stimulates hormonal production and improves blood circulation.
There are several ways to apply moxabustion from direct application to application using devices. The smoke created from burning the herb has a strong and unique odor.
Moxabustion should only be used under the supervision of a trained professional.
For more info on moxabustion, see the additional resources page.