Cupping and Moxibustion
Moxibustion is an essential part of Chinese medicine. Moxa, a soft woolly substance prepared from mugwort leaves (Artemisia vulgaris), is placed either directly on the skin or held just above it, over specific acupuncture points or meridians. The herb is lit and as it smoulders slowly, a therapeutic heat permeates the skin and affects the flow of “qi” (energy) and blood in the area being treated.
Cupping is an age-old technique used in traditional Chinese medicine to stimulate acupuncture points or larger areas of the body. Cupping is often practised alongside acupuncture but can also be used as a treatment in its own right.
Cups are rounded and usually made of glass. The practitioner creates a vacuum inside the cup and quickly places it onto the skin where treatment is needed. The cup is left in place for anything up to 20 minutes. Several cups are often used in one treatment.
If large areas of the body need treating, a technique known as ‘sliding cups’ is used. A thin layer of massage oil is spread over the skin, the cups are then placed onto the body in the usual way and slid along the muscles being treated. This sliding method helps the blood and ‘qi’ to flow more easily in areas of stagnation.
Cupping is not painful, however it can leave reddish patches on the skin, like circular bruises. Although these marks resemble bruises, the muscles have not been traumatised in any way. The redness on the skin indicates that there has been movement in the circulation of blood under and around the cups. Not all cupping will result in redness as this depends on the complaint being treated.
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