Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fire Cupping

So it seems that any good Taoist should have a method of healing. This can be used on the self or on others. It can be a philanthropic past time or a medical practice. But the Taoist practitioner should practice a healing art of some kind. There are many healing arts within the Taoist paradigm, qi gung, acupuncture, herbalism, tui na, moxibustion, shiatzu massage, etc. The one that I seem to be drawn to and have begun to practice a bit is Fire Cupping. Fire Cupping seems to predate acupuncture and since acupunctures development has been used in combination with it. Fire Cupping has also been used with what is called a seven star hammer. The seven star hammer is a small hammer with seven needles that are used to irritate the skin on and around an acupuncture point, the fire cup is then placed on top of this. The fire cupping method involves the placement of heated or fired cups on the patients skin. As the heated glass cools or the fire extinguishes suction to the patients skin occurs. This suction pulls qi through the area loosening up any stagnation that may have developed in the region. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) indicates that qi will moves along certain lines on the body called meridians. There are points along these meridians at which the meridian may be best manipulated by acupuncture or acupressure (i.e. fire cupping). Fire cupping is less invasive and people are much more willing to give it a try and let a beginning practitioner work on them. I am considering acupuncture however and do have a couple of patients lined up for this.

So far my work with the cups has been of mixed review. This is not a far assessment however as I have really only recently begun to study the meridians and traditional points along those meridians. I have two patients with shoulder pain. One I worked on placing the cups where I “felt” they should go. This patient reported an instantaneous release from pain and an increased range of motion (ROM). This faded after 24 hours. Additional reports indicate that this patient has not complained about the shoulder in several days. An encouraging sign.

My second shoulder case was nearly identical. This time I followed traditional meridian lines as well as “feeling” them out. This was last night and the patient reports a more generalized pain, as apposed to pain in a specific area of the shoulder. He has also indicates increased ROM. The patient indicates that the overall problem with his shoulder is in fact better today. He has suffered a strange side effect however. I would no say strange as much as unexpected. There seems to be an intermittent aching in the elbow. The fact that it’s the elbow does not surprise me. Several points I cupped on him are affect this elbow as well. The fact that there is an aching may indicate a shift in the diagnosis and some changes in the way I work with this patient next time.

I have had success with a patient’s hip pain. I have not heard this patient complain or otherwise indicate that he needed to me to work on this area again. When he was at my house the other night he could barely walk. After the cupping there was an immediate relief of pain that seems to have continued to get better. This was after one cupping session.

My success with upper back and neck pain has not been quite as dramatic. But here is the deal. The patient that I have worked on and had great success with also does allot of meridian qi work. This individual is a daily practitioner so his upkeep of the meridians after they had been opened and cleared would be strong. Also I have only ever worked on a patient’s specific issue once. I have not yet performed a secondary session on any patient. I feel that this will be necessary for more stubborn cases. I do not believe that the cupping technique is a one-time fix.
(Oh yes, if any of my patients read this please feel free to comment candidly concerning your experiences and or current states)

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