Cupping is a therapy in which a jar is attached to the skin surface to cause local congestion through the negative pressure created by introducing heat in the form of an ignited material. In ancient times in China, the cupping method was called the "horn method" because an animal horn was used.
Along with continual development in clinical practice, the materials for making jars and the methods have been greatly improved. The range of indications has been expanded since this method is simple and the therapeutic effect is good. This therapy has attracted great attention and is applied in large scale by the broad masses, and also used as an auxiliary method of acupuncture and moxibusiton.
There are a great variety of jars, but most commonly used in clinical practice is the bamboo jar and the glass cup. Dr. Sundara usually prefers to use glass jars because since the glass cup is transparent, the local congestion at the site for moxibustion can be seen so as to control the treatment.
The cupping method warms and promotes the free flow of qi and blood in the meridians, dispelling cold dampness, diminishing swellings and pains. In clinics, the cupping method is mainly used to treat Bi syndrome caused by wind dampness, such as pain of the low back, shoulders, and leg, gastrointestinal disorders such as stomachache, vomiting, and diarrhea, and the lung disease such as cough and asthma.
Using tweezers, an ignited cotton ball (soaked with alcohol) is placed into a glass cup to create a vacuum. Then the mouth of the cup is rapidly placed firmly against the skin on the desired location. This method is applied to the lateral side of the body, mostly on the back or another part of the body.
After cupping, there may be blood stasis or bruising at the local area. Generally, it will disappear several days later.
Not only is acupuncture now being accepted as a serious treatment, but many in the medical community suggest acupuncture should take place before surgery for foot pain since it can eliminate the need for surgery. This offers hope for those who have suffered with foot pain that was considered untreatable by traditional methods. There are finally studies showing acupuncture can provide significant relief in these situations.
The foot is one of the most complex parts of the body, consisting of 38 bones connected by numerous joints, muscles, tendons and ligaments.
Because the foot is susceptible to many stresses, feet and ankle problems are a common reason for doctor visits (over 4.5 million office visits a year, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons). Examples include pain, inflammation and limited range of motion.
The most common cause of foot pain is improper foot function or poor posture. However, other factors can cause (or lead to) foot pain. Footwear can worsen and, in some cases, produce foot problems. Shoes that are too tight, for instance, can increase pressure and stress, while shoes that are too loose can let the foot slide and rub, creating friction. Overuse and exercise-related problems can also cause foot pain.
Among the most common types of foot problems are heel spurs (an abnormal growth on the heel bone); corns (callous growths that develop on the top of toes); bunions (a protrusion of bone or tissue around a joint); neuromas (a buildup of tissue in the nerves running between the long bones of the foot); or hammertoes (condition causing the middle joint of the toe to poke out).
Nearly everyone suffers from some form of foot pain during their lifetime. Athletes who do not warm up their feet prior to exercise are especially susceptible to problems.
Many acute and chronic musculoskeletal pain syndromes have been effectively treated using medical acupuncture, including repetitive strain disorders such as plantar fasciitis and carpal tunnel syndrome, as well as myofascial pain patterns and associated disorders such as tension headaches and temporomandibular joint dysfunction.
Acupuncture and Chinese medicine are able to treat neuroma, bone spurs, bunions and other common foot problems and foot pain with great success. Studies have shown acupuncture to be effective in relieving many types of foot pain. Research done by experts from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C showed acupuncture as an effective form of care for plantar fasciitis producing considerable reductions in foot pain and improvements in foot function in a relatively short amount of time.
Studies cited in journals like "Acupuncture in Medicine" and "Acupuncture Today" show acupuncture to be effective in relieving otherwise unresponsive chronic foot pain.
Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine therapy using moxa (mugwort herb), along with acupuncture. Medical historians believe moxibustion actually pre-dates acupuncture. Moxibustion is the application of heat resulting from the burning of a small bundle of tightly bound moxa to targeted acupoints. Practitioners use moxa to warm regions and acupuncture points with the intention of stimulating circulation through the points and inducing a smoother flow of blood to promote the body's ability to heal itself.
Moxibustion is especially effective in the treatment of chronic problems and gerontology. It is believed to add new energy to the body and is used to treat both excess and deficient conditions because the radiant heat produced by moxibustion penetrates deeply into the body, restoring the balance and flow of vital energy or life force (qi).
According to Chinese medicine, there are different types of qi, such as yin and yang types of qi. The yang type of qi is one of the essential materials that build up the foundation of the human body. Sufficient yang qi is essential for a healthy life. The disorder of yang qi can lead to cold, deficiency or even exhaustion of the essential qi and is so severe situation it sometimes may cause even cause a coma. In these cases, moxibustion can be applied to reinforce yang qi and stop the collapse.
Pathogenic factors such as cold and heat can cause abnormal flow of qi and blood in the body, which may lead to all kinds of diseases (including arthritis). For example, cold can cause the slow flow or even stagnation of qi, which is one of the main factors of pain. Moxibustion can help remove the stagnation of qi and the blood through warming up qi, and thus relieve pain and other ailments. Moxibustion can be used for reinforcement and reduction purposes. The reinforcement technique is a therapeutic method for patients with deficiency, such as fatigue. The reduction method is usually used for patients with excess, such as high fever.
Moxibustion can be applied at the acupuncture point at the bottom of the feet to treat disorders such as hypertension, when yang qi flows upward abnormally. On the other hand, moxibustion applied at the top of the head can help yang qi to flow upward normally, and treat disorders such as chronic diarrhea.
Detailing the functions of moxibustion, the authors of Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion
say that it is used for the following purposes:
To warm meridians and expel cold.
Abnormal flow of qi and blood usually results from cold and heat. Cold causes obstructed flow or even stagnation of qi, and heat results in rapid flow of qi. Normal heat activates blood circulation and cold impedes its smooth flow. Since stagnation of qi and blood is often relieved by warming up the qi, moxibustion is the right way to generate the smooth flow of qi with the help of the ignited moxa wool.
To induce the smooth flow of qi and blood.
Another function of moxibustion is to induce qi and blood to flow upward or downward. For example, moxibustion is used to treat disorders caused by excess in the upper part and deficiency in the lower part of the body.
To strengthen yang from collapse.
Yang qi is the foundation of the human body. If it is in a sufficient condition, a man lives a long life; if it is lost, death occurs. Yang disorder is due to excess of yin, leading to cold, deficiency, and exhaustion of the primary qi, characterized by a fatal pulse. At this moment, moxibustion applied can reinforce yang qi and prevent collapse.
To prevent diseases and maintain health.
It is often said, If one wants to be healthy, you should often have moxibustion over the point zusanli.
Frequent moxibustion on zusanli can invigorate the spleen and stomach, assist in digestion, hence, strengthening the body and slowing down the process of aging.
A study in Taiwan found that mice with tumors that had been treated with moxibustion lived longer than mice with tumors that had not. In addition to Cancer, Moxibusion is believed to help treat chronic conditions such as arthritis, digestive disorders, and ulcers. For thousands of years it has been accepted by the general Chinese population as an effective curative method for a wide range of indications, because of its simple application, low-cost and safety.
Both historical and current clinical experiences have proven that moxibustion is not only a very effective, but also a convenient method in preventing diseases and improving health.