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Cupping

Welcome Autumn

Welcome to the Jean Donati Acupuncture Autumn newsletter.

Inside you will find interesting information about the season of autumn, the element of metal, the lung and large intestine (the organs associated with metal), how metal shows up in all of us, and ways to strengthen your body, mind, and spirit in this season.  Enjoy!

Welcome Autumn

We are now truly into the autumn season.  The leaves are changing, the air is crisp, and daylight is decreasing.  In Chinese medicine, the autumn is the season of the metal element.  It is a time of winding down, clearing out, and of gathering reserves for winter.  The movement of autumn is inward and downward, taking us from the buzzing fullness of late summer into the deep stillness of winter.  The energy of autumn, the metal element, moves us to eliminate what we no longer need, and reveals to us again, what is most precious in our lives.

The organs associated with the metal element are the lung and large intestine. The function of the lung in Chinese medicine is to receive inspiration. The lung takes in the pure and lets go of what is no longer needed.  If the lung is not functioning well, waste builds up and we are unable to take in what is pure.  Instead of tranquility, inspiration and freshness, we have symptoms such as bronchitis, shortness of breath, cough, allergy, asthma, congestion, colds and flu, constipation, spastic colon, and diarrhea.  In terms of the mind and spirit, depression and stubbornness or an inability to let go may occur if the lung is not functioning well.

The function of the large intestine is to let go of what is toxic from the body, but not just on the physical level.  Think of how much rubbish is sent our way every day, which affects our mind and spirit as well.  We need to be able to eliminate the mental and spiritual rubbish or our minds become toxic and constipated, unable to experience or take in the beauty around us.  A well functioning colon allows us to do this effectively.

 

In an individual, the metal element represents internal resolve and strength, self worth, self-esteem, vitality, and endurance as well as the ability to let go of emotional upsets and grudges.  A person with well-balanced metal is organized, self disciplined, conscientious, precise, meticulous, and logical.  They are straightforward.  Metal qi bestows a deep inner strength.  A person with unbalanced metal is disorganized, overly critical, unable to sense their value, and often lacks inspiration.  They may seek respect and recognition from the outside because they feel a lack of worth on the inside.  They have difficulty letting go of things because they identify their worth with those things.

As we move into the cold damp and windy weather of autumn, we need to nourish our yang energy.  One way to do this is by eating foods prepared by long, slow baking, roasting, or stewing.  Use warming herbs and spices such as ginger, garlic, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon and pepper.  Foods prepared in this way warm the body.

Foods that reflect the quality of autumn are heartier in flavor and more astringent.  Foods like turnips, ginger, garlic, and horseradish are thought to assist in cleansing grief (the emotion associated with the metal element).  Roots like carrots and turnips and winter squash help ground us and increase our ability to focus.

Foods to incorporate

To Clear Phlegm:  Almonds, baked pear, garlic, onion, black tea, peppermint, thyme, and mustard

To moisten dryness:  Baked peaches, apples, pears, tofu, butter, and eggs

To generally strengthen the lungs:  Lung chi enhancing foods include pungent spices, ginger, garlic, rice, oats, carrots, mustard greens, sweet potato, yam, molasses, and almonds.

Foods to Avoid:  Dairy products (introduce phlegm and create mucus), orange and tomato juice, beer, wheat flour pork and rich meats, peanuts, sugar, bananas

Autumn Recipe

Oven Roasted Vegetables  (Recipes for Self Healing, Meridian Press)

Choose 4-5 root vegetables (carrots, turnips, winter squash, pumpkin)

Chop into bite sized pieces and place in oven safe dish

Mix toasted sesame oil with sea salt and black pepper and pour over vegetables

Sprinkle with sesame seeds, rosemary and thyme

Bake at 400 for 1 hour

The Cold/Flu/Virus Season is upon Us

Autumn is the best season of the year to pay attention to the health of our lungs. 

Some suggestions on how to strengthen our lungs are as follows:

*Keep your immune system up, and cover your neck whenever outside.

*Stay out of drafts, and avoid air-conditioning. Dress appropriately.

*Increase rest and go to bed earlier.

*Avoid smoke and environmental toxins.  If you smoke, autumn is a wonderful time to  Quit!

*Do deep abdominal breathing exercises.  Yoga or Tai Chi

*Have a cup of ginger tea -it is pungent and tonifies (strengthens) the lungs.

*Have a good cry.  Holding grief in, or refusing to recognize it, is very damaging to the metal element.

*Brush the skin and hair (The Skin is the associated organ of the Lungs)  To help strengthen the Immune System, use a loofa to slough off old cells and invigorate the akin.

*Acupuncture treatment can strengthen lung energy to ward off colds, and flu illnesses.

Consider what you need to do to make ready for the letting go of autumn.
Holding your harvest in mind, ask what is overgrown or unneeded. What distracts you from your dearest concerns?  What might you wish to simplify in yourself or in your life?

Welcome Autumn

Suggestions for living in harmony with the autumn season:

*Go through your closet, desk, garage, medicine cabinet – any cluttered storage area- and discard what you no longer need. Then donate, sell, or otherwise circulate what might be of value to others.

*Do a mental inventory: Examine attitudes (prejudices, envies, hatreds, jealousies, resentments) stored within your psyche. When possible, contact those with whom you harbor old “stuff.” Attempt to resolve the hurtful old issues, and then let them go.

*For issues you cannot resolve directly with others, or for old issues with yourself, write them on paper, being as specific as possible. Then burn the paper, symbolically…releasing the content.

Take time each day to breathe slowly and deeply. As you inhale the clean autumn air, feel yourself energized and purified. Feel the old negativity, impurity, and pain leave your body and psyche. Then contemplate briefly who you are without these qualities.

 

For more information about Chinese Medicine, and Acupuncture, please visit my web site www.East2WestMedicine.com or call Jean at 410-984-3700.

What do the Cupping Marks and Colors Mean?

Acupuncture cupping color mark meaningsCupping is a form of Traditional Chinese medicine where inverted cups made of bamboo, glass, silicone or plastic are placed and inverted over acupuncture points, then placed under suction.  Health benefits include improved circulation, increase in lymphatic drainage, release of toxins, and decrease in pain form conditions such as arthritis, muscle pain, low back pain, neck pain and fibromyalgia.

There are two types of dry cupping.  Dry cupping is where cups are placed over acupuncture points and suction is created which lifts the skin and soft tissues creating a stretch within the muscle and fascia.  In stationary cupping, these cups are left in place.  Generally, a tight sensation is felt around the cupped area.  The cups are left in place for 10-15 minutes.  In gliding cupping, lotion is applied to the area to be cupped and the cups are placed under suction and then glided along the meridians or pathways of energy.  This type of cupping can cover a larger area such as the thighs and back.

Although there are vast benefits of cupping with acupuncture treatments, not everyone is a candidate for cupping.  Those who are physically weak, have sensitive skin, inflamed skin, fever, or who are on blood thinners should not undergo cupping.  Cupping can be used with pregnant women however, the stomach, lower back and specific forbidden points should be avoided.

It is common for cupping to leave small circular marks on the areas where the cups were placed.  These areas are usually painless.  The discolorations are a result of broken blood vessels below the skin surface.  The color indicates the level of blood and Qi stagnation, toxin and dampness in the body.  The pattern and color of the marks reflect the level of stagnation in the area.  For example, the darker the color, the more stagnation present.

Cupping marks are not bruising.  Bruises are made by injury or blunt trauma to the skin surface.  Bruises are painful. The marks made by cupping are caused by suction and works to bring toxins to the surface of the skin. Cupping marks do not cause pain.

People often ask how long the cupping marks will last and if they have any specific meaning.  The coloring of the cupping marks ranges from bright red to a dark purple.  These can last 3 days to a week.  A darker color means that there is more toxins and stagnation in the section of the body that has been treated.  The darker cupping marks can last up to 3 weeks.  Lighter marks that are pink can last for a few hours.  Usually, subsequent cupping treatments will yield lighter marks as the toxins are dissipating from the body.  In the case of an injury, multiple cupping treatments may be needed to rid the body of toxins and pathogens and induce healing of the deeper tissues.

Cupping marks type and color explained

  • Pale cupping marks and cold skin after cupping indicates deficiency, cold or dampness
  • Dark purple cupping marks indicate stagnation and cold
  • Light or bright red spots in the cupping marks indicate Qi and blood deficiency, or Yin deficiency
  • Little dark spots scattered in the cupping mark indicates deep Qi and blood stagnation
  • Skin lines in the cupping marks or itching after cupping indicates wind or dampness
  • Cold or dampness is indicated by water drops in the cup
  • Blisters/bubbles after cupping normally means dampness, accumulated fluids in the tissues, and cold

 

https://longhealthcare.com.au/health-topics/2018/12/12/do-you-know-the-meaning-of-the-different-cupping-marks#:~:text=Pale%20skin%20marks%20after%20cupping,and%20blood%20deficiency%2C%20Yin%20deficiency

Image from https://foundationphysio.com/physiotherapy-treatments/cupping/

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What is Cupping and How Is It Related to Acupuncture? 

Cupping is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) therapy that dates back to ancient Egyptian, Middle Eastern and Chinese cultures as far back as 300A.D.  TCM philosophy believes that pain results from the blockage of Qi, blood, or energy. You have all heard me say in relationship to acupuncture: “Where there’s stagnation, there is pain.  Where there is free flow there is no pain.”  

Cupping, like acupuncture is a method of clearing this blockage to restore the body’s natural flow of energy.  This is beneficial for health promotion, prophylaxis, and treatment of disorders such as back pain, knee pain, asthma, carpal tunnel syndrome, migraines, as well as high blood pressure.   

Recent researches show that cupping therapy helps to: 

  • Reduce muscle pain  
  • Improve blood circulation, promote cell repair and increase muscle relaxation 
  • Assist the lymphatic system to drain excess fluids and toxins 

Cupping has many musculoskeletal benefits.  It is helpful for chronic lower back pain, neck pain and fibromyalgia.  In addition, digestive symptoms such as bloating, gastric reflux and constipation conditions can be eased with cupping. Overall recovery from cough, asthma and the common cold can be improved with cupping as well as acupuncture. 

In a cupping session, inverted cups made of bamboo, glass, silicone or plastic are applied to the acupuncture points on the body to create suction. The suction of the cups pulls the skin upward as the suction increases. The suction opens up energy pathways in a similar way to acupuncture and is often used in conjunction with acupuncture to clear the energy channels and remove toxins from the body that are responsible for pain and disease. It has been used effectively for pain relief, increasing blood flow, chronic inflammation, enhanced relaxation, and improved quality of life. 

Cupping draws fluid into the area being worked on by the suction it creates.  This causes improved circulation and release of toxins. The discoloration that occurs after cupping is due to broken blood vessels just beneath the skin, much like a bruise.  These marks and their color, are diagnostic of toxins being released to the upper skin layer for the body to disperse. The marks tend to fade within days to a week.   

In the next article I will discuss the different types of cupping, coloration of cupping marks and their meanings.  Stay Tuned! 

 

Sources 

Cleveland Clinic https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/16554-cupping 

Harvard Health Letter https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/what-exactly-is-cupping-2016093010402) 

WebMD “Cupping” https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/cupping-therapy 

https://www.thomsontcm.sg/articles/what-do-your-cupping-colours-tell-you/#:~:text=These%20cupping%20marks%20are%20discoloration,of%20stagnation%20in%20that%20area. 

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