According to Traditional Chinese Medicine cupping is done to relieve stagnation (stagnant blood and lymph), resulting in improved flow of blood and qi (energy), improved circulation, and decreased pain. Cupping is used on the major muscles of the neck, back, and shoulders. Cupping can treat disorders like musculoskeletal pain, common cold, asthma, bronchitis, and pneumonia. This technique creates an avenue for toxins to be released from the body. Fire cupping uses a flame inside a glass cup to create suction and placed on the skin. Suction cups are plastic and use a pump to create suction (suction cupping was seen at the 2016 Rio olympic games used on swimmer, Michael Phelps). As with gua sha, cupping can leave marks or bruising on the skin that usually go away in a week. Cupping, if right for you, may be added to your acupuncture treatment for maxium benefit.
is a scraping of the skin with short or long strokes to stimulate the microcirculation of the soft tissue, which increases blood flow. A smooth-edged instrument known as a gua tool is used with oil along with the downward scraping of the skin to release toxins, promote blood flow, and circulation to the area. Gua Sha is used to decrease inflammation, relieve pain, and promote healing. This part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
The word “gua” means to scrape or rub and refers to the tool used to do the scraping. “sha” refers to the reddish speckled rash on the skin that appear after treatment. The stroking motions of guasha tool can cause capillaries near the skin surface to bleed, which causes red or purple streaks to appear along the stroke pattern. The streaks disappear in a few days. As strokes are applied, fluids and toxins are drawn to the skin.
Guasha can be used as a preventative or as a first-aid treatment for common conditions such as a cold, flu, headache, asthma, bronchitis and both chronic and acute pain. It’s also used to stimulate the immune system, detoxify the body and release fevers as the scraping brings excess heat and toxins to the surface of the skin. Gua sha, if deemed appropriate by your acupuncturist, can be added to an acupuncture treatment and can be used in conjunction with cupping.
Picture gallery of cupping and guasha
*Results may vary*