July 23, 2016 303.669.4529info@pure-acupuncture-denver.com Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture in the Highlands Jefferson Park Area

Cupping & Gua Sha

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What Is Chinese Cupping?

Chinese Cupping is a method of applying acupressure by creating a vacuum next to your skin.

Cupping feels like a wonderful massage

The therapy is used to relieve stagnation (generally presenting as pain) within your body. It is applied in cases of back, neck, shoulder, and other musculoskeletal pain.  It’s even great for menstrual cramping!

It’s also applicable in the treatment of respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia, asthma and bronchitis.  It’s also effective for digestive disorders like Chron’s disease, inflammation of the colon, IBS and indigestion.

How Does It Work?

The therapy works by promoting blood circulation within the targeted tissues.  It has been found to be effective up to four inches within the body tissue, causing release of toxins and lactic acid, activation of the lymph system, clearing of the colon, and even activating circulation within varicose veins, arteries and capillaries.  It also promotes skin health and clears stretch marks.
Study suggests that cupping can be beneficial to of respiratory system such as the common cold, asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis; digestive system such as Crohn’s disease, colitis, sensitive bowl syndrome, indigestion, malnourishment, eating disorder; and musculoskeletal pain, neurogenic pain, menstrual cramp, chronic fatigue syndrome, and so on.

Where there is free-flow of blood supply, there will be healing.

So we are basically telling your body “hey, we have a problem in this area. Let’s focus the healing over here!”.

For example…

If you came in with severe pain between the shoulder blades due to hunching over your computer all day, we could relieve the muscle tightness (or stagnation) and the pain by treating the muscles in between the scapula.

This will focus the blood circulation on that area, promoting free flow and reducing inflammation and muscle spasm.

You would experience immediate relief that lasts, without the soreness that may result from a deep tissue massage.

How Are the Cups Applied?

They are applied as a single unit or as a group during your treatment. They are generally used in conjunction with a regular acupuncture session.

There are several different methods of application

Fire Cups—This is a traditional application in which a cotton ball is lit with fire and then quickly inserted into the cup, then removed. This removes the oxygen from the cup so that when it is applied to the skin, a vacuum is created. The vacuum is what draws the blood to the area.

Pump Cups—Same idea as the Fire Cups except that instead of using fire to remove the oxygen, a pump is used to suck the oxygen out of the cup. In this application, the cups would be placed on the treatment area, then the air would be pumped out manually.

Wet Cups—This takes basic cupping to the next level. It combines a simple blood letting technique with the actual cups. It works by pricking the skin with a small lancet to release a few drops of blood, then applying the cup and the vacuum on top of the area to draw more blood out.

This type of treatment would useful in cases with advanced inflammation–or heat conditions, as they are known in Chinese Medicine.

What Does It Feel Like?

It feels like a really great massage, except the results produced are deeper and longer lasting. The pressure can be adjusted to your comfort level, so don’t be shy about speaking up.

This is one of the techniques that is often requested by my patients because it feels wonderful!

It should be noted, however, that the vacuum-like effect produced through the therapy may possibly leave a bruise. The extent of bruising is directly related to the severity of the condition, and it does not cause you any pain.  This is a normal response and the marks will disappear in a few days.


Gua Sha

Gua sha is a manual treatment applied to the muscles and tendons using a small tool. The purpose is to promote blood circulation and remove stagnation, thus restoring normal flow and function to the area being treated, and reducing any inflammation that may be present.  It is especially useful for stiff neck and shoulders, and tight, tender backs.  As with cupping, it is also useful in treating colds and flus as well.


Call Joanne, a professional Licensed Acupuncturist, today for a complementary consultation!

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