So the other day, I created a separate option for an appointment that entails the traditional acupuncture therapeutics of: cupping, moxibustion, and gua sha. With the recent exposure of athletes using cupping for optimal performance in the olympics and movie stars using it for detox,  I’ve had a couple of questions from community acupuncture patients about whether I felt that cupping would help them.

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Here’s generally where cupping is beneficial:

  • when acutely catching a contagious illness
  • back pain
  • shoulder tension
  • neck pain
  • to purge excessive energy
  • promote qi and blood circulation
  • detox
  • to stimulate acupuncture points along the back without needles (or before needles)
  • to reduce swelling
  • for arthritis syndromes
  • relieve pain

Cupping is contraindicated for:

  • pregnancy
  • patients who bleed easily
  • patients who have a lot of body hair (the cups won’t hold suction)

How is cupping applied?

A hot flame is inserted into a special glass globe used for this therapy. The flame warms and expands the air inside the globe. When the flame is pulled out, the globe is quickly placed on the acupuncture point. The air quickly cools and condenses creating a suction effect that pulls the qi and the blood to the area applied. The patient does not feel any heat in this therapy. It feels like pressure or heaviness.

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Cupping can leave a mark on the skin where there has been stagnation within the system. I like to joke that it looks like you’ve been making out with an octopus because that pretty much sums it up! These marks will go away within a few days to a week just like a bruise would.

Here are some photos:

Topics on moxibustion and gua sha to be continued…