Cupping & Gua Sha
CUPPING is a very ancient and surprisingly universal treatment option. The Chinese were not the only ones to use this powerful therapy: The Ancient Greeks, Egyptians, Africans, Native Americans and Arabs all used this treatment as a center piece to their respective medicines. In ancient times, animal horns, bamboo cups or ceramic jars were used. Cupping was also used in America and Europe by doctors up until the proliferation of chemical medicine in the past century.
By using a quickly inserted and removed flame or a suction device to create a vacuum effect, the cups are applied to various therapeutical points and areas on the body. Today, a simple pump suction device is usually used to create the same effect. The skin and flesh is thus pulled outward in a pressure relief vacuum. This accomplishes several things:
• RELIEVES PRESSURE
• RECTIFIES STAGNANT CIRCULATION
• STIMULATES UNDERLYING TISSUE & ORGAN FUNCTION
• STIMULATES THE LYMPHATIC SYSTEM
• HELPS RELEASE TIGHT MYOFASCIA & TRIGGER POINTS
• RELEASES IMMUNE & HEALING FACTORS TO THE AREA & ASSOCIATED ORGANS
I like to refer to cupping as a type of ‘reverse deep tissue massage’ with added benefits: While deep tissue massage often gives temporary relief, the pain and pathological tissue problems nearly always come right back as the underlying causes were not addressed. Instead of just giving temporary relief by pressing or massaging the muscles, the powerful therapy of cupping instead pulls stasis outward and releases it, thus giving a more effective and lasting treatment.
Cupping is great for chronic back pain and stiffness, as well as for tight muscles and stress. It is also very useful in treating different chronic diseases. It can also serve as both a local as well as overall body detox therapy. Once these stuck pathogenic factors are pulled to the surface, broken down by the body and then expelled, the patient can feel a much improved sense of ease, wellbeing and energy.
Note: Cupping regularly leaves bruises of varying intensities (see picture to the right). In the case of severe internal stasis, these bruises can be quite dark and a bit startling. The bruises will go away on their own - generally within a few days to a week - and are part of the treatment. The body releases a myriad of anti-coagulant and healing factors to heal this bruise, which powerfully and simultaneously activate the associated channels, pathways and organs.
Related to cupping, Gua Sha uses friction to release stagnation and pathological factors from the tissues. Usually, massage oil is applied and a rounded, smooth tool is used to repeatedly stroke over the affected area until the desired ‘sha’ (bruising or red petechiae) has formed.
This technique is also quite powerful and can effect amazingly quick results and cures. It is especially effective on the cervical/neck area. We often find that patients with old whiplash injuries and chronic neck pain have very dark ‘sha’ appear, which can consequently greatly relieve their pain and chronic problems.
Gua Sha is also used on the shoulders, upper back, para-spinal muscles and trapezius muscles. Gua Sha can also be a great way to clear the nervous system of pathogens and stimulate immune function. (Gua Sha can work great for colds, neck and shoulder pain and chronic respiratory problems)