Acupuncture and Adjunctive Techniques

Written by Dr. Kelly Brown. Posted in Family Health.

Acupuncture Adjunctive Techniques to help you achieve pain freeDuring the Olympics last month, there was some excitement around the circular marks on some of the athletes. Cupping therapy has been used for centuries in many cultures, including China, Greece, and Russia. Cupping is only one of the many adjunctive therapies in acupuncture practice. Other techniques include Gua Sha, Moxibustion, and Tui Na. Safe and Effective Each of the listed techniques are useful in treating various conditions when combined with acupuncture. All of these therapies are safe when performed by a properly trained professional.

Cupping was originally called “horning” because hollowed animal horns were applied to infected tissue and the suction pulled out blood and pus. Now, fire cupping with glass cups or suction cupping, as seen on the Olympics, is used. In addition to treating skin infections, cupping is also helpful with colds, arthritis, and back pain. Cups can be kept in one place to enhance an acupuncture point or slid along an area to improve blood and Qi flow. This is why cupping is so effective in treating pain and muscle soreness.
Cupping can also be applied with blood-letting to remove heat in an area. A painful region is considered to have Qi stagnation. When the Qi in an area is not moving as it should, the blood will also not move through the area properly. Over time, this creates heat. Pricking the area with a lancet, then covering it with a cup, can help to move the stagnant blood, reduce heat, and pain. This therapy can be used, in addition to acupuncture, for painful conditions such as arthritis and migraine headaches.

Gua Sha

Gua Sha, or sand scraping, is also used for heat conditions, such as those described above. A ceramic spoon or flat-edged tool is used to scrape the skin at areas of pain or heat. Scraping brings the heat and redness to the surface of the skin. The degree of redness varies depending on the amount of stagnation or heat present in the area. This practice is effective with acupuncture for treatments of neck pain, headaches, and back pain. Both cupping and gua sha leave bruise-like marks, which also vary in severity. The benefits of these treatments outweigh the marks left on the skin.


Alternatively, moxibustion is a warming therapy. Moxibustion uses mug wort herb that is burned directly on an acupuncture point or needle or indirectly over a point. The warming effect helps to promote the proper movement of Qi and blood in an area. The smoke from the herb is also healing as it enters through the skin. This technique is used with acupuncture more often when pain is worse in cold and rainy weather. It is useful to decrease inflammation and pain in arthritic joints.
Additionally, moxibustion can be used at the tips of certain toes for various conditions. Most notably, burning it at the outside of the small toe can help to turn a breach baby. Moxa at the big toe can help to stop uterine bleeding and bed-wetting.

Tui Na
Tui na is Chinese medical massage that translates to push and grasp. Various hand techniques are used to promote the proper movement of Qi and blood in an area. There are specific techniques for each area, determined by the channels affected and the location of pain.

Dr. Kelly Brown is a chiropractor and acupuncturist with Pure Wellness. She received both a Doctorate in Chiropractic and a Masters in Acupuncture from New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, NY. Dr. Brown is a life-long resident of DE and is glad to be back in the area serving the community. You can contact her at the office 302.365.5470 or through the website                 www.purewellchiro.
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