Cupping, Moxa & GuaSha - Acupuncture's Companions
Moxibustion is the therapeutic use of moxa. Moxa derives its name from the Japanese mogusa or mugwort in English.
When the herb mugwort is ground up it turns into a soft woolly mass. This mass is rolling into and compacted into a cigar-like stick and lit. The moxa stick burns very evenly creating immense heat. Hence moxibustion: moxa + combustion.
The heat is passed over specific acupoints or painful regions of the body bringing blood flow and warmth to the area.
Moxa is mostly used in combination with Acupuncture and sometimes it is used by itself.
The moxa wool can also be made into cones and be placed directly on the skin over a slice of ginger, for an even more warming effect if this is required.
The therapeutic method of applying heat and smoke to the body is one of the oldest healing modalities on earth.
Cupping therapy has been around for millennia all over the world, from Asia to Africa. In China, it is commonplace. In most Eastern European households you'll find a set of cups that are used as the first port of call when colds come through.
Michael Phelps the Australian Gold Medal Swimmer would say Cupping is like the reverse of massage. Instead of a pushing sensation, Cupping creates a pulling sensation. It pulls the blood up to the surface. It assists the body in venting to the surface. So can be used at times when the body needs to do be doing this, like during a cold. It is also helpful when muscles have become tight and stuck. The Cupping sensation creates more pressure on these already tight muscles coaxing them to relax and bring fresh blood and restore flow to constricted blood vessels.
A very relaxing part of Cupping is when ointment is first applied to the skin and the cups are applied lightly and dragged across the skin. The lift allows the layer between the skin and muscle to free up and glide for fluids and lymph to move. It feels wonderful.
The cups are usually not left on the skin for more than 10 mins so are one part of a treatment session.
Gua Sha 刮痧
Gua Sha is used a lot at The Acupuncture Sanctuary especially during treatment of the Sinews - the fascia and muscle.
Gua Sha is the technique of scraping the skin to bring sha up to the surface. Sha 痧 - means granules, sand, or pebbles, so you end up with redness on the skin.
Why do we do this? During a sinew treatment, we are helping the body clear pathology out of a superficial channel. We can do this with needling, or with scraping.
This technique is similar to cupping but has more of an emphasis on moving, and doesn't seek to bring the blood up in the same way.
It's a soothing feeling and a great substitute to needling for sensitive or sore areas.
Gua Sha is also used in cosmetology treatment on the face to even out and smooth the tissues.