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Cupping is a technique used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) for certain health conditions. Glass or bamboo cups are placed on the skin with suction, which is believed to influence the flow of energy and blood in the body. Cupping should not be confused with the percussive technique in Swedish massage called "cupping" or "clapping."
Cupping was originally called "horn therapy" in ancient China, but variations of it have been used in Turkey, Greece, France, Italy, and Eastern Europe. Cupping has a long history of use in acupuncture practice and has been combined with bloodletting, but it is a therapy in its own right. There are specialist cupping practitioners in Japan.
Cupping is a safe, non-invasive, and inexpensive technique. It is used by practitioners of Chinese medicine to treat colds, lung infections, and problems in the internal organs. It is also used to treat muscle and joint pain and spasms, particularly in the back. Cupping can be used on people for whom the injection of acupuncture needles poses a problem or risk. Cupping therapy is thought to stimulate blood circulation.
Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine begin treatment by diagnosing a patient through interviews, close examinations of the pulse, tongue and other parts of the body, and other methods. TCM strives to balance and improve the flow of "Chi", "Qi", or life energy, which travels throughout the body in channels called meridians. According to traditional Chinese medicine, illness is caused when Qi does not move properly in the body. Acupuncturists are trained to determine where Qi is stagnated, weak, or out of balance.
Acupuncturists use cupping for specific problems in the flow of Qi. Cupping disperses and moves qi by exerting suction and pressure. Cupping is used when the Qi is blocked at certain points, or when Qi needs to be drawn to the surface of the body from deep within. For instance, cupping is used to treat lung infections and colds, because it is believed that the suction disperses and energizes the Qi that has become blocked and stagnated in the lungs. Cups can also pull out "wind-cold" that in Chinese medicine is believed to cause lung infections.
Patients usually lie down for a cupping treatment. Cups are made of bamboo or strong glass. To create a vacuum, a flame from a lighter or a burning cotton ball is placed in an upside-down cup. When the oxygen in the cup is burned off, the cup is placed directly on the skin, where it is held in place by a surprisingly strong suction. Often, the skin inside the cup visibly rises. There are also cups available that use pumps instead of burning to create the proper suction. Cupping is generally a painless procedure.
More than one cup at a time may be used to cover an area thoroughly. Cups may be left in the same place for several minutes, or removed quickly and placed elsewhere. Cups are sometimes placed over acupuncture needles that have been inserted. Moving cupping may also be performed, by first rubbing the skin with a small amount of oil to allow the cups to slide around. After cupping, patients may remain lying down for several minutes. When cups are used to treat colds and lung infections, patients are advised to wrap up in blankets to stay warm after treatment. Acupuncturists may also prescribe herbal remedies, dietary changes, and other health recommendations.
Cupping should be performed by experienced professionals. Although it is a simple treatment, people should not attempt it on themselves. Improper glass vessels can shatter and cause injury, and cupping may cause bruising.
Cupping causes blood to be drawn to the surface of the skin, which can cause red marks, swelling, and bruising
An ancient Chinese secret, Gua Sha therapy is still practiced by many Chinese today. You may ask, "What is that?" Gua means to scrape or rub. Sha is a "reddish, elevated, millet-like skin rash' (aka petechiae). Sha is the term used to describe Blood stasis in the subcutaneous tissue before and after it is raised as petechiae. Gua Sha is one technique that intentionally raises a Sha rash or petechiae. It is a traditional ancient Chinese healing technique that dates back over two thousand years.
This ancient method of promoting “Chi” , "Qi" or bioelectric vital life energy and blood circulation as well as the removal of toxic heat, stagnant blood and lymph fluid from the body is an extremely important, almost miraculous method of improving one's health. "Qi" is the constant and vigorous movement of energy or life force that keeps us healthy and alive.
Do you suffer from chronic pain? Excess systemic toxicity? Poor circulation? Lymphatic congestion? Inflammation? Fatigue? Infections? Physical or emotional stress? If so, then you will greatly benefit from Gua Sha treatment.
Gua Sha is used regularly by practitioners and laymen in health care facilities and homes throughout China. The method of applying Gua Sha involves the layering of Gua Sha oil on the skin. This oil is enhanced either with healing herbs or essential oils chosen to aid the extraction of toxic waste. The skin is then scraped in the area of discomfort or at times on the entire body using a specific Gua Sha tool depending on whether the treatment is for physical or emotional healing.
Gua Sha treatments are not painful. As the body is scraped it pushes a build-up of fluid ahead of it, and after it passes, it leaves an indention or vacuum behind which draws toxic fluid out to the surface of the skin from deep within the tissue. The toxic fluid (Sha), floods to the surface and can be seen in small red, deep purple or green pools of blood, it is also often hot on the area that the toxic heat is extracted. Red spots are an indication that toxins are being released. Where the area is deep purple the blood is old and extremely stagnant. A dark green discoloration is a sign that stagnant blood and toxic "Qi" are being released from the system.
Sometimes a clear fluid will draw to the surface in a form that resembles cellulite or goose bumps. Where the skin starts out with a green glow, which then turns red during the treatment, is a sign that pain or stagnant "Qi" is being removed. The exposing of the Sha is literally removing disease from deep within the system.
In Chinese forms of healing, there are three types of bad "Qi". The first type is dead "Qi", which refers to the stagnation of blood that has been in the body for a very long time without being released. That means the system is suffering from oxygen deprivation. Dead "Qi" is very harmful as it can encourage the growth of cancer cells. Remember, cancer is anaerobic and cannot survive where oxygen is plentiful. The second type of bad "Qi" is stagnant "Qi". This is caused by conditions such as lack of exercise, chronic heart, liver, kidney, spleen and lung problems and from obesity. The stagnant "Qi" is always associated with pain in various parts of the body. The third kind of bad "Qi" is toxic "Qi", this is where waste products or toxic residue accumulates in the system and when left untreated can result in very serious health problems.
Gua Sha creates suction on the skin that pulls stagnant intercellular fluid to the surface, removing toxic debris, and replacing it with fresh oxygenated, nutrient rich fluid, which in turn accelerates regeneration and revitalizes the region where cancer cells may or already have manifested.
Unlike acupuncture, Gua Sha treats not only the meridian system but the entire system as well. This is why the Chinese utilize Gua Sha as their foremost treatment in the prevention of disease. Gua Sha can be used to treat, alleviate and heal chronic degenerative diseases, migraines, chronic neck, shoulder and back pain, bone spurs, strains and sprains, menstrual disorders, insomnia, heart disease, hypertension, vertigo, sinusitis, ear and eye disorders, chronic infections, sciatica, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, neuralgia, asthma, cysts and tumors, carpal tunnel syndrome, stress, digestive disorders, muscle aches, breast pain, varicose veins, skin disorders, blood disorders and liver, spleen, kidney, bladder, pancreatic stress and much more. If you are suffering from any of the these ailments, then it is time to do something beneficial for yourself and experience Gua Sha and its advantages firsthand by making an appointment with a practitioner and getting yourself on the road to recovery.
When is Gua Sha used?
Gua Sha is used whenever a patient has pain associated with an acute or chronic disorder, or when there is an aching, tenderness and/or a knotty feeling in the muscles. Palpitation reveals Sha when normal finger pressure on a patient's skin causes blanching that is slow to fade. In addition to resolving muscular skeletal pain, Gua Sha is used to treat and prevent the common cold, flu, bronchitis, asthma, as well as any chronic disorder involving pain, congestion of qi and Blood.
Where is Gua Sha applied?
Sha is raised primarily at the Yang (positive) surface of the body: the back, neck, shoulders, buttocks, and limbs. On occasion, Gua Sha is applied at the chest and abdomen.
How is Gua Sha applied?
The area in question for Gua Sha is lubricated with oil. The skin is then rubbed with a round-edged instrument in downward strokes. An area is stroked until the petechiae that surface are completely raised. If there is no Blood stasis the petechiae will not form and the skin will only turn pink.
What kind of instrument is used to Gua Sha?
A soupspoon, coin, or slice of water buffalo horn is used in China. A simple metal cap with a rounded lip works best and is by far the most comfortable for the patient.
What does the type of Sha indicate?
The color of the Sha is both diagnostic and prognostic. Very light colored Sha can indicate blood deficiency. If the Sha is fresh red, it is of recent penetration. If the Sha is purple or black, the blood stasis is long-standing. If brown, the blood may be dry. Dark red Sha can indicate heat.
How fast will the Petechiae fade?
The Sha petechiae should fade in 2-4 days. If it is slower to fade, indicating poor Blood circulation, the practitioner must ascertain whether it is a blood deficiency, Qi or Yang, a deeper stagnation or organ deficiency.
What are the benefits of Gua Sha?
In most cases the patient feels an immediate shift in their condition particularly pain relief or increase movement. Gua Sha moves blocked Qi and blood, releases external sweating, and moves fluids. In modern medical terms, these fluids contain metabolic waste that has become congested in the surface tissues and muscles. Gua Sha promotes circulation and normalizes the metabolic processes. It is a valuable treatment for both external and internal pain, and facilitates the resolution of both acute and chronic disorders.
Is Gua Sha safe?
Gua Sha is a completely safe technique, but it is serious medicine. Knowing when to use it and what to expect from treatment is as important as good technique. People who live with chronic pain often create emotional defenses to cope with it or can feel completely hopeless. Having that pain 'touched' and relieved can be unsettling, even shocking. It is good to be moderate in activity after treatment, even rest. Remember after treatment no drugs, alcohol, sex, fasting, feasting or hard labor, including working out, for the rest of the day. In other words, mellow mode.