We sat down with our Acupuncturist, Annette Lambert, R.Ac, to ask her a couple questions about what people can expect from an acupuncture treatment. This is the part of a series which answers questions we have been asked regarding acupuncture treatment.
If I don’t want to have any needles, can I still get a treatment?
Absolutely! With your consent, your acupuncturist can choose to do acupressure using her fingers and thumbs or can apply magnetic pellets (“seeds”) to stimulate acupuncture points. In fact, you can also ask your acupuncturist to perform TuiNa, an ancient form of Traditional Chinese massage, Cupping, or Gua Sha.
What are Cupping and Gua Sha and what do they do?
Cupping utilizes suction to break up connective tissue adhesions and scar tissue, it promotes tissue perfusion, reduces inflammation, decreases tension and stiffness, and thus helps promote local circulation, relieve sore, muscles and spasms, and facilitates the healing process. From both a Western Medical and a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, cupping promotes circulation and breaks up stagnation (of Qi and Blood) and promotes relaxation. The Flash Cupping method is also useful in the loosening of chest congestion and phlegm for removal from the body. This loosening of chest congestion is thus immensely helpful for treating asthma, bronchitis, chest colds and flus and for bringing some relief for emphysema. Cupping can also be applied to the abdomen to promote bowel movements and assist with digestion.
Cupping has become more popular in the West and its popularity has risen with its distinct circular marks. These distinct marks have been seen on the likes of Olympic Gold Medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, Rio Olympic gymnast Alex Naddour to help them with their sore challenged muscles allowing them to recover faster and be at the ready to compete. The marks have also graced the backs and torsos of celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, and Justin Beiber, as well as on the arms of our Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
Cupping has been utilized for thousands of years in the Middle East, East Asia, and Ancient Egypt. Traditionally, cupping involved the use of a flame inserted quickly into a glass, bamboo, ceramic, or animal horn cup to remove the oxygen and create a vacuum. Modern cupping can also be achieved with plastic cups and a hand pump or with flexible silicone cups. When applied speedily to the skin, the underlying tissue layers are drawn up into the cup which results in enlargement of the tiny blood vessels; this enlargement promotes the flow of fresh blood and lymph into the area. However, this enlargement of the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) can also lead to some extraversion (leakage) which is visible as redness and bruising. Depending on your body, the quickness with which it heals, and how deeply seated the stagnation is, the redness, bruising and/or suction marks (that look like you have been hugged by an octopus) can disappear by the end of the treatment or last up to ten days. On average, most cupping marks and bruising will disappear in 3-4 days. The only other side effect is mild to moderate temporary temporary discomfort as stagnation is dissipated and the underlying tissues opened up.