It’s More Than Just Needles
Cupping is the attachment of glass or plastic cups by suction onto the surface of the skin. Drawing up the skin causes micro-perfusion (surface circulation of blood), which then creates an anti-inflammatory response in the body. Cupping helps to stimulate the flow of blood, dispels pain or swelling, and breaks up adhesions between the muscles and fascia. Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. In China, cupping is used primarily to treat respiratory conditions and certain types of pain. Some practitioners also use cupping to treat depression. Fleshy sites on the body, such as the back and stomach (and, to a lesser extent, the arms and legs), are the preferred sites for treatment.
Electro Acupuncture (EA) uses the same points as acupuncture, and operates on a similar principle. The difference is that the needles are attached to a device that sends electrical currents or pulses into the body. Electrical currents have stimulating effects, which can influence the cells, tissues and entire systems. While most electrotherapy techniques only allow the electricity to flow over the skin, EA channels it into the body with pinpoint precision.
What are the benefits? In clinical studies, EA has shown to be effective in treating a variety of conditions, particularly those that are chronic. The most obvious are pain, muscle spasms and neurological issues. But because the electrical stimulation of acupuncture points can be used to activate a variety of systems within the body, EA can be used to treat conditions as wide-ranging as heart disease, hypertension, nausea, weight gain and even skin problems.
Moxibustion, or “moxa,” is a commonly used form of heat therapy. Dried mugwort, as it is also known, is placed on specific acupuncture points and then burned (your skin is protected, so you just feel warmth). It is a traditional Chinese medicine technique utilized to warm the body, increase blood flow, relieve pain, and facilitate healing. Fun fact: research has shown moxa is an emmenagogue - a substance that increases blood circulation to the pelvic area. For this reason, moxibustion is used to turn breech babies and ease menstrual pain.