In Chinese medical theory the body is composed of meridians or channels where energy, also known as qi, flows. When this energy becomes blocked, pain and disease occur. Needling acupuncture points along these channels activates the flow of energy which stimulates healing.
In western medical theory the insertion of needles in particular acupuncture points stimulates the release of endorphins and opiods, which are natural pain killers. Acupuncture also causes vasodilation (increased blood flow) and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system (allows the body to achieve deep relaxation). Modern research has shown that acupuncture points are located in areas of high concentrations of fine blood vessels, sensory fibres, fine lymphatic ducts and mast cells (body's immune response).
Cupping is a therapy in which glass cups are applied to the skin along meridians and muscle groups. A vacuum is created inside the cups which creates suction. This suction draws up underlying tissues instantly relieving muscle tension and pain. This negative pressure not only loosens muscles but also increases blood circulation to the area and sedates the sympathetic nervous system.
Cupping can therefore be used for not only relieving muscular pain, but conditions such as high blood pressure, anxiety and chronic stress. This treatment is also valuable for respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis and tuberculosis as it clears congestion and blockages within the lungs.
Chinese massage, also referred to as tuina, is very similar to regular massage in that it relaxes muscle tissue, tendons and ligaments. Tuina uses rhythmic compressions along meridians of the body to activate energy flow and harmonize yin and yang. Techniques include pressing and holding, kneading and tapping. Tuina is also used to manipulate and lubricate joints, to relieve acute and chronic pain, as well as, improve skin tone, relieve numbness and relax the nervous system.