What is Gua Sha?

Gua sha is a Chinese medical therapy that is a gentle scraping technique.  It involved using a smooth edge to apply repeated pressured strokes over lubricated skin.  Massage oil is rubbed into the skin and then a smooth edge of a ceramic or metal tool is then placed down firmly and moved along the muscle, usually following the meridian pathways.  This technique releases heat and toxins trapped in the skin and invigorates the blood flow to the area.  Gua sha can be used to help patients with pain and is also helpful when a patient is working through a bad cold or similar illness.   

Gua sha is similar to cupping but differs in some ways.  Like cupping, gua sha can result in redness on the skin and can produce a feeling of release.  The tools are different and the reasons we might chose the techniques vary.  I tend to use cupping to help move stagnation but may choose gua sha when I think the condition is related to excess heat in the body.  

What is Cupping?

Cupping (also called fire cupping) is a therapy that has been used in China (as well as other parts of the ancient world) for thousands of years.  It involves creating a vacuum inside a cup (usually class, ceramic or plastic) and placing it immediately over the skin.  The vacuum, which is usually created by placing the cup over a lit flame) will create suction on the body, lightly drawing the skin and superficial muscles tissues up (like a reverse massage).   The skin will rise up and redden a little as blood vessels expand.  Cups are usually left on the body for 5-10 minutes.  Sometimes they are gently moved along a meridian pathway in a technique called gliding or sliding cupping.  Cupping is most often done on the back, but can be used on the neck, legs or other body areas.  

Cupping therapy is used to "unstick" stuck spots and helps relieve pain.  It can increase blood flow to an area, loosen tight muscles and can relax the nervous system.  Cupping therapy is used for many conditions from muscle pain to migraine to anxiety.  A classic use of it cupping is to loosen & clear up congestion in the chest,   We also use cupping to help remove blockages that are in the pathways (called meridians) of qi that run in the body.  

Most patients enjoy cupping.  It feels like a gentle massage and they often experience as sense of release.  Cupping is a safe, effective therapy.  The flames that are used to create the suction are never lit near the body.  If you have questions about cupping, please talk to Meg at your next appointment.  

 

What is Moxa?

What is Moxa?

Moxa is another name for the herb artemesia mugwort.  Mugwort has been medicinally used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years in a process called moxibustion.    Simply put, moxa is burned over the body to help warm it during an acupuncture treatment.  By using moxa we are able to build qi in the body and help it move easier.  This is especially useful when a patient's pain is caused by not enough qi or when there is a lot of cold in the body.  

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Lessons from the Day of the Dead

Lessons from the Day of the Dead

We grieve because something precious, something we valued has passed or transformed. Its as natural as breathing. Grief can exist side by side with joy, but too often, we barely give it its due, so anxious we are to move on and just feel the joy.  Working with our emotions such as grief, anger, sadness and fear can help us keep flowing and healthy, even in the face of hard times.

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