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FAQ / Cupping & Moxa
Cuppings and Moxa and may either be used on their own or as an adjunct to acupuncture. Because they part of folk medicine traditions around the world, moxibustion and cupping are suitable for home use.
Cupping is the application of suction cups to the body. It is a traditional treatment, either done alone or in conjunction with acupuncture. Sometimes cups are left in one spot, while other times the practitioner slides them along the body's surface. Folk medicines of many cultures use some form of cupping.
To create suction, a vacuum is created inside a specially made therapeutic cup. Modern cups have a valve on top to which a simple pump can be attached. Pulling air out with the pump creates a vacuum. Once suction is adequate, the pump is removed and the cup sits on the skin’s surface, typically for 5-20 minutes.
“Fire cupping” is the ancient, traditional method. The vacuum is created by quickly inserting a flame into the cup. As with the valve style, these cups remain on the body 5-20 minutes until the treatment is done. Fire cupping does not burn or feel hot on your body. Cupping can be used alone or in combination with acupuncture.
Suction promotes circulation. Increased circulation reduces swelling and allows toxins to flow away from and nutrients to flow into the area. Cupping is most commonly used for pain, injury, and respiratory problems. Cupping also alleviates discomfort from digestive issues, menstrual problems, stress, and other ailments. With respiratory problems, the gentle suction can get phlegm moving, enabling the lungs can expel it.
Cupping shouldn’t hurt. It leaves marks, called ‘cupping marks’, in the shape of the cup. These marks do not hurt and will disappear.
Moxibustion is the process of using moxa to apply heat to the body. Moxa, the herb Artemisia vulgaris or mugwort, is burned on or over the skin. It produces a deeply penetrating warmth.
Moxa deeply warms the body. Its soothing heat feels wonderful on sore muscles, sluggish digestion, and cramps.
There are several ways to apply moxa. Most common is with a “moxa pole” or “moxa stick”. A large cigar of mugwort is lit and then held at a comfortable distance from the body until the patient feels a pleasant heat spreading across the area.
Another method is to wrap the metal handle of a needle with moxa, and light it so it smolders, warming the needle. Moxa also can be rolled into tiny threads and set on appropriate acupoints. An incense stick is used to light the moxa so it smolders down.
No matter which form of moxibustion is used, precautions are always taken to protect the skin to prevent burns.
Moxibustion is used for pain, especially in the back and joints. It may be applied to the the abdomen and legs for digestive problems, and is an invaluable therapy for certain types of menstrual pain. Moxa is helpful for conditions like arthritis that are worse the cold and damp weather.