Physical Techniques

Using needles, cups, spoons and smoke to promote health

Acupuncture - needles

Acupuncture is the insertion of very thin, sterile needles at specific points on the body. The use of needles allows the practitioner to regulate and balance the qi, blood and organ systems of the body. This balancing, in turn, helps to alleviate the complaints for which the patient is being treated. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine have been the main system of medicine in China for over 2000 years. During that time period, extensive records were kept by the Chinese government detailing both its safety and efficacy. Acupuncture and Chinese medicine in China have been used to treat all types of disorders ranging from the common cold, pain, stress, anxiety, insomnia, allergies, depression, digestive problems, and gynecological discomforts including pms, menstrual complaints, uterine fibroids and cysts.

For more information on the efficacy of acupuncture and the range of disorders that it can treat, please visit the World Health Organization (WHO).

Moxibustion - fire

Moxibustion, sometimes referred to as “moxa”, is the burning of the herb mugwort (also known as “ai ye”). Moxa can be applied to specific acupuncture points or it can be applied over a broad area. In addition to the therapeutic heat this procedure provides, medicinal qualities of the burning herb also help to correct imbalances in the body. Moxibustion is applied in a number of different ways, including burning the herb on needles that are inserted in the body. Other ways of application are to use a moxa stick to indirectly apply heat to acupuncture points, or burning the herb on a medium which rests on the skin such as fresh ginger or salt.

Cupping - suction

Cupping is used to break up stagnation in muscles and soft tissue. Fire cupping works by creating a vacuum in a glass cup by using fire to exhaust all of the oxygen in the cup. The vacuum can also be created through the use of a mechanical pump. Cups can be placed in a specific location or they can be moved around using oil as a lubricant. The suction created by the vacuum helps to release tight muscles. It also draws qi and blood to the area to promote healing. Cupping is generally not painful, but may leave bruises that can last for several days.

Gua Sha - scraping

Gua sha involves scraping the surface of the skin with either a ceramic spoon or specialized gua sha tool. Gua sha is traditionally used to break up stagnation and to quickly release heat from the body. It is commonly applied to the broad muscle groups of the neck and back. Like cupping, gua sha often leaves bruises which last for several days.