In cupping therapy, small glass or plastic cups are gently suctioned to the skin causing the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. It is like the inverse of massage - rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses moderate suction to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are left in place for about 10 minutes while the patient relaxes. Once the cups are removed, most patients experience temporary skin discoloration, which resolves on its own in a few days. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system. It is used to relieve back and neck pain, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, common cold, respiratory ailments, and cellulite.
Moxibustion (moxa) is the application of Chinese Mugwort herb, which is part of the chrysanthemum family, to specific areas of the body. Moxa is burned indirectly near the skin generating a warm sensation that is a pleasant therapeutic experience. Moxa is more than simply the application of heat. The warming effects of moxa enhances proper blood flow, balances the internal organs, and increases mobility of muscles and joints. It is used to relieve pain due to arthritis, digestive conditions, gynecological disorders, and enhance immunity.
Gua sha involves stimulation, or "scraping," of the skin using a round-edged tool. Oil is applied to the skin prior to treatment to ensure the tool slides over the skin easily. Sliding the tool over the skin results in the appearance of small red petechiae called "sha," which stimulate an anti-inflammatory and immune response. The sha generally dissipate within several days on their own. Sliding the gua sha tool over the skin helps to loosen tight muscles and encourage blood flow. It is used to relieve back and neck pain, stiff muscles, decreased range of motion, headaches, common cold, and respiratory ailments.