Cupping consists in applying one or several suction cups to the skin. A pump or a flame is used to create the vacuum in the cups. Those cups are then placed over acupuncture points or to cover a wider area of the body (e.g. chest, back, abdomen etc.). Sliding cupping is also used at times, which consists in sliding a suction cup over the affected area of the body. This is painless and most of the time is a rather soothing process. Depending on the degree of stagnation in the body the skin may turn from pink to purple for a few days.

Cupping literally sucks out excess moisture, chills, dampness, and leaked blood. It is used for problems caused by Wind-chill’ or excess Damp’ which include symptoms like:

  • Arthritis – Rheumatic conditions
  • Abdominal pain – Bruising and abscesses
  • Indigestion – Headaches
  • Common colds – Cough
  • Low back pain – Painful menstruation and more.

Gua Sha’ (“Scraping”)

Gua Sha’ in the East, is widely used as a home remedy for diseases caused by Wind’ or Cold’, Summer Heat’ or Dampness’ which are all pathogens blocking the Qi energy in the meridians.

This technique uses a round edged tool, or often a Chinese soup spoon lubricated with salted water or oil, to “scrape” the skin until the area changes color. As in cupping, the skin color may change from pink to purple, depending on the degree of stagnation encountered. Sometimes petechiae or ecchymotic patches surface on the skin. These indicate stagnation of Blood, also known as the Sha syndrome’.

Gua Sha’ is commonly used for drawing excess Heat, expedite acute illnesses and prevent the onset of illnesses. Among the most common symptoms treated are:

  • fever
  • heat stroke
  • colds & headaches
  • painful joints
  • indigestion
  • rigidity
  •  stiffness & numbness
  • pain
  • constriction, and more.


Moxibustion is often used with shiatsu and acupuncture because it is known to boost the benefits of those therapies.

Moxibustion (from moxa or burning in Japanese) consists in applying a heat stimulus to selected meridian points or painful or swollen areas of the body. The combustion material used is the dried “wool” collected from the leaves of the mugwort plant (artemisia vulgaris) – a member of the dogwood family. After applying a special ointment on the skin for preventing burns, small moxa cones (the size of a grain of rice) are placed on the ointment and ignited with incense sticks.

The heat produced rather than dispersing over the skin surface, has the unique property of penetrating deep into the underlying tissues and has often been likened to laser heat. This procedure may leave a reddish spot on the skin for a day or two.

Other methods (indirect moxa) use filters between the skin and the moxa’, such as slices of ginger, onion, garlic, salt or miso. Moxa’ sticks are also used. Ignited sticks are held close to the skin to generate the heat stimulus.

In Japan, moxa is also used internally as an effective diuretic and antipyretic. This herb also stops bleeding and promotes digestion.

Purpose of Moxibustion

Moxa’ is used essentially for:

  • warming the meridians and expelling the Cold’ pathogen
  •  inducing a smooth flow of Qi’ and Blood’
  • strengthening the Yang’ energy
  • preventing diseases and maintaining good health.

Benefits of Moxibustion

Moxibustion has multiple benefits. Among the most noteworthy are:

  • Increase in blood cell, especially white blood cells. That means: better immunity.
  • Effectiveness at reducing pain and inflammation (because of its deep penetration)
  • Improvement of motor nerve functions
  • Stimulation of the functions of the internal organs
  • Normalization of the ANS resulting in: increased resistance to diseases, better sleep, restored appetite and improvement of general well-being.

Compresses and Poultices

Compresses and poultices are widely used as home remedies in Eastern and in some Western traditions. Compresses are usually made of liquid solutions into which a cloth is dipped and placed on the body. Poultices are composed of herbs or other substances, often mixed with flower and placed on the body for longer periods of time.

These home remedies generally help in increasing blood and lymphatic circulation, drawing out excess heat and warming cold areas. They do help with:

  • pain
  • strains
  • arthritis
  • rheumatism
  • abscesses
  • bruising swelling
  • nervous disorders
  • strengthening the internal organs and more.

Common types are:

  • Ginger Compresses: for muscular tension, blood stagnation, poor circulation
  • Mustard Plasters: for cold conditions (bronchitis, common colds, etc.)
  • Salt Packs: for abdominal / menstrual cramps, diarrhea, ear pain
  • Potato Plasters: for inflammation, internal fever, allergies, fibroids, swelling and pain