These techniques stimulate acupuncture points and redirect qi without using needles.
Cupping: many different styles of cupping exist, but the basic principle is the same. Using suction, the cup is adhered to the body over a certain area – very often the back, although it could be on the limbs, face, or neck. Cupping is often used to help relieve muscular tension, as well as help draw pathogenic factors from the body during the onset of sickness. Cupping is generally very pleasant, and many people ask for it by name.
The technique we use is called “fire cupping,” which means that we take a glass cup made especially for this purpose, and quickly insert and remove a lit cotton ball. This results in a suction when the cup is placed on the skin. Although it often leaves circular marks on the skin that look like bruises, cupping very rarely produces pain or soreness.
Gua sha (“gwah-sha”) is a scraping technique using a tool such as a horn or a ceramic soup spoon. There are different forms of gua sha, all with the goal of breaking up adhesions and/or unlocking previously stiffened or numb areas. We apply oil to the skin prior to gua sha-ing, so it is a relaxing experience for the patient.
Tui na (“twee-nah”) is Chinese channel massage, or what people sometimes call acupressure. We do limited tui na in our practice, as it is an entire discipline unto itself. We highly recommend that our patients receive bodywork, and are happy to refer to local massage therapists and a nearby tui na master.
Moxibustion (or moxa for short) is a heat therapy that is intimately intertwined with acupuncture. Moxa is a dried and prepared version of the herb mugwort (sometimes combined with other herbs, such as sage) that we light and use to stimulate acupuncture points or channels.
We use moxa in several forms. Loose moxa can be applied directly to the skin or needle handle. Moxa in a cigar-shaped roll is held a short distance from an acupuncture point to stimulate and warm it.