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Cupping Therapy And Its Capacity To Treat Various Types Of Ailments And Illnesses

Cupping is a very old type of alternative medicine in which a practitioner places special cups on the skin of a patient for a few minutes to generate suction. People choose this type of treatment for several reasons: for getting deep-tissue massage, for well being and relaxation, for better blood circulation, and for the relief of inflammation and pain.

The cups may be made of:

• Silicone
• Earthenware
• Bamboo
• Glass

Although it is now becoming a widely used type of treatment, cupping therapy has been practiced for thousands of years. Its use dates back to the ancient Egyptian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese cultures. In fact the Ebers Papyrus, one of the most ancient medical textbooks in the world tells how the ancient Egyptians practiced cupping therapy as early as 1,550 B.C.

The Different Forms of Cupping Therapy

The two different forms of cupping are wet and dry cupping.

In both forms of cupping, the practitioner places a flammable substance such as paper, herbs, or alcohol, into a cup and lights it up. As the fire slowly dies, the practitioner inverts the cup and applies it on the patient’s skin.

A vacuum is created inside the cup as the air cools. This causes your skin to turn red and rise as your blood vessels dilate. Usually, the cup is allowed to remain on the skin for about three minutes.

In wet cupping, the practitioner generates a mild suction by leaving a cup in place for about three minutes. He then removes the cup, takes a small scalpel, and creates tiny cuts on the patient’s skin. Next, the practitioner does a second round of suction to remove a small amount of blood in the cut areas.

In your initial session, three to five cups may be applied on certain parts of your body. Later on, to prevent infection, you may be treated with an antibiotic ointment and bandage. Usually, within ten days, your wounds have been healed and your skin should look normal again.

A newer version of cupping does not use fire but instead a rubber pump to generate a vacuum effect inside the cup. Some practitioners prefer silicone cups that can be easily moved from back and forth on the skin for a massage-like effect.

Those promoting this treatment think that wet cupping eliminates toxins and harmful substances from the body to foster healing. More studies are still being done to prove this theory.

There are practitioners who also provide “needle cupping.” In this technique, the practitioner first sticks acupuncture needles into the acupoints and then places the cups over them.

What Does Studies Show?

Unfortunately, there have been a few scientific studies done on cupping.

The Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine in 2015 published a report that stated cupping can be a viable treatment for the management of pain, herpes zoster, and acne.

This mirrors the findings of a report published in PLoS One in 2012. Chinese and Australian researchers reviewed 135 studies related to cupping therapy. According to them, cupping can be of help to people who received other treatments, like drugs or acupuncture, for different illnesses and conditions such as:

• Cervical spondylosis
• Paralysis of the face
• Acne
• Herpes zoster

According to the British Cupping Society, cupping can be used to treat:

• Varicose veins
• Bronchial congestion brought about by asthma and allergies
• Depression and anxiety
• Migraines
• High blood pressure
• Skin disorders including acne and eczema
• Gynecological and fertility problems
• Rheumatic diseases including fibromyalgia and arthritis
• Blood disorders including hemophilia and anemia

Side Effects

As long as the cupping procedure is done by a trained health practitioner, cupping is fairly safe healing modality. Still, you may suffer from the following side effects in the parts of the body where the cups touch your skin:

• Skin infection
• Bruises
• Burns
• Mild discomfort

Two Standard Auricular Acupuncture Protocols Used to Treat Addictions

A neurosurgeon in Hong Kong by the name of Dr. H. L. Wen found out in 1972, that the acupuncture treatment he performed on a surgical patient for analgesic purposes also led to the reduction of the opium craving and withdrawal of the patient. The good doctor adopted the ear or auricular acupuncture procedure in which acupoints are used to relieve pain throughout the body. He also did some research on ear acupuncture on several addicts, and discovered that he can attain a high percentage of success in the recovery of all types of addiction. Ear acupuncture, by 1974, was adopted by the South Bronx Lincoln Memorial Hospital in New York for the detoxification and recovery of drug addicts in conjunction with methadone therapies.

Eventually, because of acupuncture extreme effectiveness, methadone was dropped. From then on, drug addiction detoxification and recovery clinics using ear acupuncture have been created in most major cities in the U.S.

Although these acupuncture clinics are funded by the public, Medicaid and Medicare have decided not to fund them. Despite the incredible data (anecdotal and scientifically proven) in favor of acupuncture, the US Food and Drug Association decided that acupuncture is still an “experimental” type of treatment. This decision all but classified acupuncture as an alternative type of treatment that cannot be granted government insurance and dissuading private insurers from giving coverage.

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture is part of a larger Chinese medical tradition known as TCM or Traditional Chinese medicine, which is based on the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine or Nei Ching. This ancient document is estimated to be 2,500 years old, at least which makes the FDA decision of classifying acupuncture “experimental” as highly questionable.

There are five branches of TCM: a one-of-a-kind body/mind psychology; energetic modalities such as Tui Na massage, and Qi gong; dietetics, herbal pharmacology; and acupuncture /acupressure.

The principle behind TCM is centered on the belief that bio-electromagnetic vital energy known as chi or qi circulates throughout the body via a dozen main meridians or energy channels. Acupuncturists have been able to identify around a hundred major acupoints along these meridians. Chi is a singular form of bioelectrical energy with innate intelligence, akin to the forces of nature.

The 12 meridians are situated in the energetic or subtle body that serves as the energetic blueprint for the physical body. When the chi circulates smoothly and is in adequate levels, TCM practitioners see that as a sign of good health, harmony, and balance, which in Western medicine means a state of optimum health.

On the other hand, when there is a blockage in the flow of chi, the body will start to experience disease which will eventually show in the body. Thus, in a state of disharmony and imbalance, sickness and disease arise. The needles are inserted into strategic points to stimulate chi and remove the obstructions in chi flow.

Ear or auricular acupuncture is a subcategory of acupuncture. Auricular acupuncture is grounded on the principle that the macrocosm of the meridians of the body has a miniature similarity found in the ear. The hands, feet, or ear all contain mini-maps of the 12 meridian energetic systems for the whole body.

Basic Auriculotherapy Protocols for Addictions

The acupoints to be needled for treating addiction are determined from session to session although with regards to recovery protocols only one protocol is followed and never changes. There are a couple of basic ear acupuncture protocols adopted used for all types of addictions, which allow even non TCM professionals to perform them.

The NADA or National Acupuncture Detoxification Association is one protocol that utilizes five needle points in the ear: the autonomic point to help balance circulation and the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems; the shenmen point to relieve anxiety and stress; the C. kidney point, liver point, and the lung point.

Another protocol is the ACAD or American College of Addictionology and Compulsive Disorders treatment. Same as NADA, this protocol uses the C. kidney, autonomic, and shenmen points. ACAD also utilizes three other points: the point zero for homeostatic balance, brain point for the endocrine glands, and the limbic system point for aggressive compulsive behavior.

Respiratory Infections Such as Bronchitis Can Be Addressed with Acupuncture Treatments

Acute bronchitis is a condition that often occurs after a person has contracted a respiratory infection. The infection causes the inflammation of the air passages of the lungs resulting in symptoms such as wheezing, shortness of breath, fever, fatigue, cough that is productive, chest pain that initially affect the sinuses, nose, and throat and then, later on, spread into the lungs. People who are most susceptible to bronchitis include people who have a heart or lung problem, smokers, infants, young children, and the elderly. Conventional modes of treatment for bronchitis include prescription meds for the wheezing or coughing, steam therapy, fluids, and rest. One extremely safe, effective and natural treatment for bronchitis is acupuncture.


Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine healing procedure that involves the use of sterile thin needles inserted at various parts in the body known as acupoints. Acupuncture was developed in China more than 3,000 years ago. It was designed to help prevent disease, balance the body, treat illness, and improve health. Through needles acupuncturists activate the acupoints with the aim of stimulating the patient’s life force energy known as qi or chi and signal the patient’s brain to release chemicals and hormones that alleviate pain and boost health. This alternative therapy has just recently become a widely accepted form of treatment in the United States even though it has been used by practitioners in Asia for thousands of years.


Studies have proven that acupuncture therapy can relieve the symptoms of bronchitis. The Chinese medical journal, Zhongguo Zhen Jiu (2007 issue), published a study that observed the short and long-term effects of acupuncture in 200 patients with bronchitis. Some of these patients were given acupuncture treatment during the three hottest periods of the year (the periods in which most bronchitis cases occur). Compared to the 100 subject who just made some changes to their lifestyle, the patients given acupuncture treatment showed better short and long-term improvement in their symptoms.


When coming in for acupuncture treatment for the first time, your acupuncturist may ask you a series of questions pertaining to your current lifestyle, family and medical history, symptoms, and complaint. After that, the practitioner will then feel your pulse and observe your tongue and from his/her observations will develop a Chinese medical diagnosis. You then will need to lie comfortably on a table or bed as the practitioner sticks the tiny acupuncture needles at certain acupoints on your body. These acupoints maybe located on your chest, feet, hands, legs or arms. He/she may use other therapies such as cupping therapy, gua sha, or Chinese massage. As the needles take effect, you will be able to relax or feel reenergized during the course of the treatment. The entire treatment may take 20 minutes to a full hour.


Before you decide on going for acupuncture treatment, be sure to talk to your doctor first. If your acupuncturist is unqualified or not properly trained, even if acupuncture is generally considered safe and rarely causes adverse side effects, you may experience pain, discomfort or bruising at the site where a needle is inserted. Try conventional bronchitis treatments first before you start using acupuncture, if you are looking for a qualified and skilled practitioner, you can ask for referrals from your doctor, family members, or friends who have tried and gotten well with acupuncture.

The Importance of De Qi Stimulation in Bell’s Palsy Acupuncture Treatment

A new study in China that pitted traditional acupuncture to a more intensive form of the treatment revealed that patients suffering from facial paralysis experienced much better improvements in terms of facial muscle function.

The conductors of the study discovered that by wiggling the acupuncture needles to generate a sensation named “de qi”, the patient had a better chance of getting back full facial function within half a year than if the needles were just stuck in the skin and left alone without being manipulated.

The study was performed in Wuhan, Hubei at the Key Laboratory of Neurological Diseases of Chinese Ministry of Education. The head of the research Dr. Wei Wang stated that de qi should always be included or at least taken into account in acupuncture therapy guidelines.

However, since the study did not consider how well the patients would have improvements in their condition without the help of acupuncture, there was no way to tell whether no therapy at all or Western conventional therapies would work less than, be equal to, or be superior to acupuncture treatment.

De qi is seen by traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners to posses great therapeutic value said Dr. Wang. In TCM, de qi is a collection of feelings that includes tingling, warmth, coolness, and achiness and is a sign that the acupuncture treatment works.

Unfortunately, no scientific study has ever confirmed this ancient belief, added Dr. Wang.

To determine if de qi possesses real value in acupuncture therapy, Wang and his team experimented on 317 volunteers who were all suffering from Bell’s palsy. These patients had to undergo acupuncture treatments for four weeks five 30-minute treatments each week.

Bell’s palsy is a condition in which one side of the face becomes paralyzed, usually temporarily, for a few months. This is usually caused by a viral infection resulting in facial nerve inflammation. Western medicine commonly prescribes the steroid prednisone as treatment for Bell’s palsy. Other Western modes of treatment include physical therapy, vitamins, and over-the-counter painkillers.

Based on statistics provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the United States has around 40,000 cases of Bell’s palsy each year. The study concentrated on this condition as facial nerve recovery due to Bell’s palsy is not likely to respond to the placebo effect as would the pain and other nerve symptoms related to Bell’s.

Random treatments were given to half of the patients and they (the treatments) were meant to generate de qi. To experience de qi , the needles were moved up and down and twisted several times during the treatment. The other patients were not treated this way and once the needles were inserted into their skin, they were left alone. Prednisone was given to all the patients.

The neurologists in the study were responsible for measuring the facial function score of the patients. The neurologists weren’t aware what type of treatment each patient received. The facial function score had a maximum score of 200, the higher the score the better the facial movement.

Initially, both groups registered facial function scores of around 130 – 135. But six months after, the patients who were given de qi experienced superior facial function than the other group. These functions included baring teeth, blinking, and raising eyebrows.

The group not given de qi treatment registered an average facial function score of 186 while the de qi group averaged an impressive 195. The study said it was hard to interpret just what those statistics meant in relation to muscle performance (i.e., whether a person can or cannot fully smile) but when the difference in score is nine points, the difference would be very obvious to the patients.

Moreover, 94% of the patients who were given de qi treatment fully got back their facial function after six months compared to only 77% in the non-de qi group. There is no clear consensus as to how de qi acupuncture treatment in particular, and standard acupuncture treatment, in general improves the symptoms of Bell’s palsy.

One explanation was given by Dr. Jian Kong, a Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital assistant professor. He said that when the needles are inserted in the face, they helped boost the flow of blood into the area. As a result, the facial nerves were adequately nourished which helped relieve the inflammation and made recovery much faster.

Although not a member of the study team, Dr. Kong agreed with the team that de qi is often overlooked and should be an integral factor in all future acupuncture studies.

Kong added that the many schools of thought about acupuncture, with some placing emphasis on de qi than others is one reason why de qi is not always considered in the plan of treatment of a patient.

De qi is also difficult to quantify, subjective, and complex. A lot of the outcomes of clinical studies are not interested in measuring de qi sensation so this sensation is ignored most of the time, said Kong.

This may explain why many studies have yielded contrasting outcomes- some showing a benefit and other times not, said Dr. Wang. This is one fundamental flaw in the clinical studies involving acupuncture treatment. By not factoring in de qi stimulation, the effect of acupuncture can be severely undermined, he added.

Kong believes that including standard de qi measurement, in acupuncture studies will lead to a level of uniformity across studies. This will help determine the effect of this sensation in the results of the clinical studies, he added.

Most Clinical Studies Fail to Prove the Effectiveness of Acupuncture for the Treatment of Asthma

Because of the serious side effects anti asthma drugs have on people, a growing number of asthma sufferers are turning to a non-chemical solution to their health issue.

Certain studies have proven that acupuncture has the ability to help, especially when it is carried out by a qualified and experienced practitioner who is also well-tuned to the patient’s needs.

The Problem with Studies

Almost all kind of clinical studies about acupuncture have been limited in a number of ways. They seem to use a different protocol to test the effectiveness of the treatment that is very different to that used in actually daily acupuncture treatment. Clinical trials test for two different forms of acupuncture, which only complicates the results.

In a review archived in the Cochrane Library about a study on asthma and acupuncture, the outcomes of two small studies that used two kinds of acupuncture were gathered. But the study concluded that there was inadequate data that would determine the effectiveness of acupuncture to the population as a whole.

Scientists often try to find the best acupoint combinations for the treatment of asthma as clinical trials are often limited to a few number of case studies. However, in clinical practice, the actual treatment protocol is far more specific and the acupoints selected for treatment are dependent on the types of deficiency and excess of the patient.

Also, certain acupoints on the back and front of the ribcage are traditionally treated to help improve the breathing of the asthma patient; in clinical textbooks and trials, they only mention a few of these acupoints.

Asthma Treatment Using Acupuncture

The Western method of studying the effectiveness of acupuncture has made it impossible for people to appreciate this powerful modality for the treatment of various kinds of diseases and instead of providing a wealth of evidence of acupuncture’s potency, most clinical studies about the treatment have made the treatment less attractive to people.

So what do people have to do make an informed decision? People should rely more on testimonies of people who actually underwent an acupuncture procedure and had really significant improvement of their condition because of the treatment.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and acupuncture deem diseases such as asthma as a sign that the body is suffering from a hidden disharmony. Hence, a patient who goes for treatment to a qualified practitioner who has the ability to diagnose and determine what underlying disharmony is plaguing the patient, will have a very big chance of having his condition treated.

Having said that, it is not the job of the acupuncturist to recommend to his/her asthma patients stopping their asthma medications entirely; can you imagine if you stop using your inhaler and suddenly you have an asthma attack? The consequences would be horrible! The way to wean yourself off your meds is to reduce their intake gradually and cautiously. Patients need to approach this in a manner that is safe and comfortable to them.

Asthma According to the Point of View of TCM

TCM practitioners traditionally see asthma as the result of disorders associated with kidney, stomach, and lung functions. And so, a lot of the potential acupoints needed to be treated can be found along the meridians related to those organs and also the meridian related to the bladder.

Some acupoints where bladder meridians are found are located on the upper part of the back. These are needled for asthma treatment and for the clearing of obstacles that block the flow of qi in the back. These points are vital for the relief of the severity of asthma breathing.

TCM’s view of the body organs is very different to the way Western medicine sees them, which is purely anatomical. The organs In TCM carry with them certain energetic, emotional, spiritual, and physical aspects.

Based on the theory of the Five Elements an interconnection exists between the different organ systems and this is used for diagnosing the patterns of disharmony. The five TCM elements are water, metal, earth, fire, and wood.

Asthma is the result of an imbalance in the element of metal. Metal is associated with the yang organ, large intestine and the yin organ, lung. The color and season corresponding to metal are white and autumn, respectively. This element is responsible for the removal of waste, skin issues, and respiration and if the metal element becomes imbalanced, the result may include feelings of grief or sadness, bowel problems, coughing, skin conditions, shortness of breath, or asthma.

Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture Can be used as Adjunctive Therapies for GERD

GERD or Gastro-esophageal Reflux Disease is a chronic digestive disorder caused by a dysfunction of the lower esophageal sphincter (LES). This is the sphincter that serves as a gate between the esophagus and the stomach. GERD develops when this sphincter does not close well enough to prevent stomach contents and acid from flowing back into the esophagus.

During digestion, food travels through the digestive system via peristalsis. In order for food to pass into the stomach, the LES relaxes. This sphincter immediately shuts back again to prevent reflux. If it doesn’t shut well, the stomach contents, which are extremely acidic, flow back into the esophagus burning the esophagus and causing extreme pain. Over time, this condition can damage the esophageal wall. Almost everyone experiences heartburn from time to time; a regular occurrence of this (many times a week), however, leads to the long-term irritation of the esophagus which is then diagnosed as GERD. Heartburn is GERD’s most common symptom. Other GERD-related symptoms include a throat-clearing cough, dysphagia, increased production of saliva, a sour taste in the mouth, frequent burping, and regurgitation.

About 34% of the US population suffers from GERD each year. People in all ages can develop GERD although people over 40 years of age are the ones most prone to it.

The diagnosis for GERD depends on the manifested symptoms. Tests used to diagnose this condition include pressure testing of the LES, esophageal acidity testing, endoscopy, and -ray with barium swallow. The last one is done to rule out other diseases such as esophageal cancer or Barrett’s esophagus.

Foods that trigger GERD and heartburn include onions, garlic and other spicy foods, fried or fatty foods, and citrus foods such as tomatoes or oranges. Soda, coffee, and alcohol increases acid in the stomach and can exacerbate the condition. Smoking cigarettes, peppermint, and alcohol all can result in the relaxation of the LES which increase the risk of GERD or worsen the reflux even more. Factors such as hiatal hernia, obesity, and pregnancy that cause the abdomen to protrude forward and up the diaphragm, can bear more pressure on the abdomen that can result in the occurrence of GERD.

GERD is a condition that presently has no cure. Surgery is a treatment option and is done to tighten up the LES. The treatment’s objective is to relieve the symptoms and contain the damage to the digestive system. The main treatment plan of conventional medicine for GERD is medications. PPIS or proton pump inhibitors are the most commonly used drugs for GERD that can help minimize acid production in the abdomen.

PPIs work very well for the relief of the symptoms of GERD; the problem with these drugs is that when taken for an extended time period they can contribute to poor digestion of proteins that require a normal stomach acidity environment in order to break down and absorb nutrients such as calcium and vitamin B12. This eventually can result in vitamin deficiency which can disrupt the process of bone creation and re-absorption leading to increased bone fragility. The effects of GERD can especially affect women in menopause who already have bone loss issues to worry about. Long term PPI use has also been associated with the rise in the number of gastric polyps in the body. Likewise it has been demonstrated that long term PPI intake can lead to dependency that results in rebound symptoms that develop when the patient stops taking the medication.

Interestingly the ancient Chinese healers see GERD as more of a sign of an imbalance in the body system than a condition itself. Heartburn is seen as a disharmony between the stomach and the liver. According to Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the liver regulates the direction of flow of blood, digestion, energy, and emotions of the body and when this organ is overworked often because of stress, it has a hard time keeping things from flowing smoothly and this leads to a “rebellion” in the flow of emotions, energy, digestion, and blood. With regards to GERD, instead of the normal downward flow of stomach energy, the overwork liver causes this flow to rebel upwards potentially resulting in chronic signs and symptoms of reflux, heartburn, burping, and thick greasy tongue coating. The throat-clearing cough and the lump sensation in the throat are known in TCM as “plum pit qi” and it’s a typical indication of liver qi stagnation.

There is a huge contrast of treatments used to treat GERD between conventional mainstream medicine and TCM. This is due to the fact that western medicine underestimates the role stress plays in the development of pathology is; TCM, on the other hand, considers stress to be a huge factor in the development of imbalances of the organ systems of the body.

The plan of treatment for the alleviation of GERD symptoms such as reflux and heartburn differ from person to person. Usually, however, the aim of treatment is to normalize and soothe the liver and at the same time relieve stress that is the cause of the liver’s beating up the stomach, bring back the normal downward flow of stomach energy, clear the dampness that tend to accumulate whenever stomach energy flow is disrupted and clear the heat. Both Chinese herbs and acupuncture are administered to the patient in order to achieve these objectives. The kind of herbs to be used will depend on your lifestyle, the severity of your symptoms, and your preference. One can also use one or both these modalities as complementary therapies to Western drugs to lessen the side effects of these drugs, to lower the dosage of the drugs, and to better control the symptoms.

Studies Reveal Tinnitus Cure with Acupuncture

Symptomatic patterns of ringing sounds in one or both ears can be resolved with tinnitus acupuncture treatment. However, researchers have noted that the ringing noise distinct to tinnitus is not solely auditory in origin. Some tinnitus sufferers may have the condition that is induced somatically or have a tinnitus that is associated with the muscles of the jaw, neck and upper back.

A remarkable case that was published in the journals of acupuncture talks about a 60 year old male who experienced left ear tinnitus. In hearing threshold exams, a 10dB difference was noted between each ear. The male stated that he experienced a radical improvement of his condition after only the initial session with the improvements lasting a number of months. Another case was about a female around 45 years old who at that time was suffering from tinnitus on her right ear but had no decrease in hearing. After just one treatment of acupuncture the ringing in her ears completely stopped.

Apart from these impressive results there is one case that talks about the systematic therapy of patients who all suffered from a condition known as chronic unilateral tinnitus. These patients were divided in half about hearing loss. About a quarter of the patients had intermittent episodes of tinnitus. The outcomes of the study reveal that a couple of the patients with normal hearing and one patient suffering from unilateral type tinnitus got better with acupuncture. The unilateral tinnitus and hearing threshold tests of these patients somehow indicate a tinnitus with a preponderant somatic cause. The patients who suffered from unilateral tinnitus coupled with unilateral hearing loss did not respond to the treatment.

These outcomes again stress the complex nature of tinnitus as well as the need for a plan of treatment that tackles a lot of the issues involved in tinnitus in order to resolve all the likely responsible factors. This way, one can have the best approach in treating your condition.