Cupping is one of the oldest techniques of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In fact, cupping is used by many cultures all over the globe. Originating thousands of years ago, the first cups were made from animal horns. Now Acupuncturists use glass, bamboo, or plastic cups.

Cupping is the application of suction cups to the body. It is a traditional treatment, either done alone or in conjunction with acupuncture. Sometimes the cups are left in one spot, while other times your acupuncturist will slide them along your back. The folk medicines of many cultures use some form of cupping.

To create suction, a vacuum is created inside a cup with a thick, rounded lip. Modern cups have a valve on top to which a simple pump can be attached. Sucking air out with the pump creates a vacuum.  Once suction is adequate, the pump is removed and the cup sits on the surface of your skin until the treatment is complete, typically for 5-20 minutes.

“Fire cupping” is the more traditional method. A vacuum is created using fire inside the cup. An alcohol-soaked cotton ball is lighted and placed inside the cup for a few seconds. When the fire has depleted the oxygen, the cotton ball is pulled out and the cup placed on the skin. Suction is applied to the skin in this manner. As with the valve style, you will rest with these cups until the treatment is done. Fire cupping does not burn or feel hot on your body.

At A Better Way Massage and Acupuncture we use both types of cupping.

Cupping is most often used for pain, injury (such as sprained ankles), and respiratory problems. Sometimes it can be used for stress induced muscle knots, digestive problems, and other conditions.

In cases of injury the suction applied enhances circulation to the injured site. Increasing circulation reduces swelling, allowing toxins to flow away and nutrients to flow into the injured area. This speeds up the healing process.

With respiratory problems, the gentle suction can get phlegm moving, enabling the lungs can expel it. In other instances, the suction from the cups starts a flow of Qi which relieves congestion that may be causing pain, digestive issues, menstrual problems, and other ailments.

Cupping shouldn’t hurt. It usually leaves a cupping mark in the shape of the cup. This mark does not hurt will go away within a few hours to a week. The discoloration is darker when there is more Qi stagnation in the area being cupped. This means that cupping is diagnostic, as well as therapeutic.

Cupping can give immediate relief for some things, and can create a state of deep relaxation. Children do very well with cupping.

Your acupuncturist will be sure to talk to you about cupping and will never do this without your permission. You can come in for a session of just cupping without needles, or you can have a combination treatment.



Herbal-MedicineHerbal medicine is the art of combining plants, minerals and other natural substances to create medicinal formulas. These formulas are used to treat a wide variety of medical concerns. Using natural substances allows the body to heal itself using its own natural processes. This results in the ability to address the cause of the disease and repair the damage rather than just masking the symptoms.

Many factors are taken into consideration when prescribing herbs. Each person’s body type and characteristics of their specific ailments are taken into account. A skilled herbalist can customize a formula to each persons needs at that current moment when necessary. Because of the wide variety of herbs, two different patients being treated for the same condition may have different prescriptions.

Sometimes using herbs to treat an illness takes longer than pharmaceutical drugs. The results, however, are longer lasting and the process is safer. By addressing the root cause of the problem, patients see long lasting improvement. Many find that they are able to reduce the amount of herbs they are on as they become more healthy. When herbs are prescribed by a board certified Acupuncturist, side effects are rare and much less severe than pharmaceutical drugs.




MoxibustionMoxibustion is one of the many techniques utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Practiced for thousands of years, its efficacy has been documented in a multitude of conditions. Moxabustion is the process of using moxa to apply heat to an area of the body. Moxa is an herb, Artemisia vulgaris or mugwort, which is burned on or over the skin. It produces a deeply penetrating warmth.  People often say it feels like a soothing warm oil being poured on them.

According to the principles of TCM, Moxibustion works to strengthen blood, tonify yang, and increase qi flow in the body. Moxibustion is also used to maintain health and wellness.

There are two methods of administering Moxibustion.
With direct Moxibustion, a small piece of moxa (an herb known as Ai Ye or Mugwort) is rolled into a cone shape. The moxa roll is then placed upon an acupuncture point with a piece of garlic or ginger, or an herbal paste between the moxa and the skin. The cone is burned to provide healing benefits.

The more common method of provide Moxibustion is indirectly. An acupuncture physician lights a stick of moxa and holds it over an acupuncture point, or lights a small piece of moxa that is placed on an inserted needle. This technique is more commonly used because the risk of burning the skin is minimized.

Moxabustion is used for pain, especially in the back and joints. It is often used on the abdomen and legs for digestive problems. It is an invaluable therapy for certain types of menstrual pain. Moxa is used to strengthen deficiencies in different parts of the body. It is good for conditions like arthritis that are worse in the cold and damp.  It is also used in treatment of breached babies, encouraging babies to move into correct positioning.


Guasha is similar to cupping. However instead of using suction to stimulate an area of the body, friction is applied with a rounded instrument. Chinese soup spoons, baby food jar caps, and specially designed instruments made from buffalo horn or plastic are commonly used for guasha. Typically some sort of salve or cream is applied before applying the friction. Guasha is most often used for respiratory problems and muscular pain.

Shonishin is a traditional Japanese method of applying acupressure to the meridian points. Although originally used in pediatrics, shonishin can also be used on adults. Pressure or stimulation is applied to the meridians using plastic, wooden or metal massage tools. Because of its noninvasive nature, shonishin is ideal for infants and children and for adults who are very frail, or afraid of needles.

Electro Acupuncture
Electrotherapy aims to stimulate the body’s healing processes by sending electrical impulses through the channels, muscles and nerves. Electrical stimulation is most commonly associated with pain management as it promotes the release of endogenous neurotransmitters such as beta-endorphin, a natural analgesic. Additionally electrotherapy can be effective for treating Bi syndromes (rheumatic and arthritic conditions), channel stagnation and musculoskeletal trauma.

During a treatment session, acupuncture needles first are placed in the target meridians and/or acupuncture points, just as in traditional acupuncture. Then electricity is added by attaching small clips (imagine miniature car battery jumper cables) that connect a pair of needles to a small battery-operated generator.

With traditional acupuncture (not using electricity), the practitioner can boost stimulation at a particular acupuncture point by twirling or otherwise manipulating needles. With electroacupuncture, electricity provides the stimulation—called e-stim—and the acupuncturist controls its intensity by increasing or reducing the current.