My clinic offers combination therapy, meaning we integrate various ancient Chinese practices such as cupping and moxa therapy with acupuncture.
Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese practice. Traditionally it is used to release the sinew – muscle tension and may be used for symptoms of colds and influenzas. I usually use cupping in the clinic when the initial stages of a cold are felt; cold shivers, sinuses/head congestion, weak body, sore throat and runny nose.
The technique of cupping involves using cups (made out of glass) and placing them directly on the skin (usually on the back). Prior to placing the cup over on the body, air pressure is created in the cup by lighting a soaked cotton ball of mentholated spirits and quickly inserting it in and out of the cup. This technique allows the oxygen in the cup to be sucked out, making the cup on your skin act like a vacuum, drawing the superficial muscle layer into the cup.
While the suction is active the cup may remain stationary or be handled by gliding motion over certain parts of the body. When stationary the cups are left in place for about 20 minutes. When the cups are left stationary it will usually leave a red bruise like mark. This is normal and will typically disappear within a few week. The change of colour on the skin is caused by the congestion of blood flow and what we call in TCM blood stasis.
Moxibustion (moxa) involves burning the mugwort herb to generate heat over an area of the body. Over the centuries, moxa has been used to help manage pain associated with arthritis and menstrual cramps.
I use indirect moxa such as moxa sticks, moxa boxes and moxa on acupuncture needles to penetrate deep within the meridians, increasing blood flow to targeted areas, clearing blockages and driving out cold found in the body. Typically moxa sticks and boxes are held a few centimetres above the problem area for about five minutes.