Student Blogs


Search Our Site

call us

Student Blogs

TCM Cupping Therapy


By Danielle Shones

Traditional Chinese Medicine is rooted in the ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back more than 2,500 years. TCM is better known for the use of herbs, acupuncture/moxibustion, massage therapy, TuiNa and Tai Chi to treat and even prevent illness.  Although Cupping is a lesser-known treatment it is a big part of Oriental Medicine.  Cupping is a term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin. Once suction has been established, the cups either sit stationary over a particular point, such as the Shu Points, along the back or may be gently glided along the skin. The suction of the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn upward. Cupping is much like the inverse of massage, rather than applying pressure to a muscle, it uses gentle suction to pull the muscle and surrounding tissue upward. Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture in one treatment, but it can also be used alone. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can encourage blood flow and promote healing. In addition it will help break adhesions between the skin and underlying connective tissue, allowing for freer moving joints and looser muscles.
Archaeologists have found evidence of cupping therapy being practiced from as early as 1000 B.C. and not just in China. Cupping Therapy developed all through the Middle East and Egypt and even Japan. Of course the history of Chinese cupping is a long history of healing and innovation. It was an ancient Taoist medical practice widely used in the courts of Imperial China. This ancient method proved to be effective against common disorders associated with the pulmonary system. The Chinese expanded the use of cupping technique to surgery, this was called wet cupping. Other ancient cultures including the Egyptians and early Greeks also embraced the therapeutic uses of cupping. Even Hippocrates, known as the father of modern medicine, used cupping for internal diseases and structural problems. Cupping techniques soon spread through the medicine world, throughout Asian and European civilizations.  Each country used their own name for cupping and had their own unique methods. Ge Hong was a practicing Taoist, an alchemist, and a medicinal herbalist.  He was the first to introduce cupping to Imperial China, as stated in the Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies. Ge Hong along with other medicine men used animal horns for cupping. To this day in some medical articles of the empire, cupping is referred to as the horn technique of healing. This has led researchers to believe that cupping was indeed a Chinese invention and its practice is older than recorded in history. These ancient cups were mostly used to draw out pus and blood in the treatment of boils but as TCM evolved, cupping evolved with it. Other styles of cups were made out of sections of bamboo, pottery and eventually glass. Today, most acupuncturists use cups made of thick glass or plastic, although bamboo, horn and pottery cups are still used in some countries. Glass cups are the preferred methods of delivery, because they don’t break easily such as pottery or deteriorate like bamboo, and they have the added benefit of allowing the practitioner to see the skin during treatment.

There are several different techniques in using the cupping therapy. The most traditional method and probably best known is fire cupping – A small cotton ball is lightly coated with alcohol. The cotton ball is then ignited and inserted inside the cup which will evacuate the air.  Once all the oxygen is burned up the cotton ball burns out and suction is formed inside the cup against the skin. Air cupping or handpump method - similar to fire cupping except no flame is needed instead the cups are equipped with a nipple that a pump can easily attach to and the suction is created via pumping the air out of the cup. Lastly there is the method of moist or wet cupping – this is the oldest and according to most literature the most effective method. The skin is punctured before treatment. When the cup is applied and the skin is drown up, a small amount of blood may flow from the puncture site, this is believed to help remove harmful substances and toxins from the body. Once the suction is established there are several techniques that can be done with the cups. Herbal cupping consists of applying the appropriate herbal tincture to the inside of the glass, and then the glass cup is applied to the skin with the appropriate amount of suction. With stationary cupping the cups are applied to the skin and then left in the same spot for up to 15mins. Massage or gliding cups are slightly different. This is done by applying oil to the skin first, inducing only a small suction inside the cup and then gently lifting the cup and gliding it across the skin but still maintaining the vacuum effect. With Momentary cupping the cups are “popped” on and off the skin rapidly, this is most easily accomplished with the handpump system.  Hot cupping is done with Moxa, also known as mugwort. Acupuncture needles are warmed with smoldering dried mugwort, and then applied to the appropriate area with the cup creating a vacuum effect around the needle. 
In 2008 the British Cupping Society (BCS) was established by a group of medical professionals and cupping therapy experts. The BCS was the first society to conduct a scientific investigation into the effects of cupping therapy and continue to promote the benefits of cupping today. According to the British Cupping Society & WebMD cupping therapy can be used to treat:


§  Blood disorders such as anemia & hemophilia
§  Rheumatic diseases such as arthritis & fibromyalgia
§  Fertility and gynecological disorders
§  Skin problems such as eczema & acne
§  High blood pressure (hypertension)
§  Migraines
§  Anxiety and depression
§  Bronchial congestion caused by allergies or asthma
§  Varicose veins

While cupping is considered reasonably safe especially air cupping, which does not include the risks involved with fire. There are still things to consider before using cupping therapy. Patients with inflamed skin, cases of high fever or patients who bleed easily are not suitable candidates for cupping. In addition pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back. And if you are moving the cup along someone’s skin it should not cross any bony areas such as the ridges of the spine or the shoulder blades. The bruises that appear are a result of the skin being drawn up into the cup where the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand; leaving circular marks anywhere a cup was applied. These bruises however are usually painless and disappear within a few days of the treatment. Leaving the clients body feeling looser, detoxed and well on their way to healing. 
1.       National Center for Complementary & Alternative Medicine (NCCAM):
2.       Academy of classical Oriental Sciences-History of Chinese Medicine Cupping:
3.       Acupuncture Today – Cupping:
4.       WebMD – Cupping Therapy:
5.       British Cupping Society:

How to Make a Magical Wound Spritz

by Guest Blogger, Becky Makool
One morning in mid-October, I jumped off my treadmill in the middle of my workout to try to grab a small piece of rawhide bone—a potential choking hazard—from one of my dogs before she could swallow it. Because it was early morning and I was tired and distracted, I forgot all about the proper way to get back on the moving treadbelt. I just jumped right back on it, and the treadmill immediately showed me who was boss! I fell on the treadbelt and scraped up my left leg and right knee. It was very painful at the time.
I had an appointment with Cynthia McMullen a few days after my fall. She has been my massage therapist/??healer for more than a year now, and I’ve also been attending her Essential Oil workshops for the past year. I am fascinated and impressed by Cynthia’s ability to create magic healing potions to address all kinds of health issues. She is a master alchemist who works in harmony with Mother Nature.
After I showed Cynthia my injuries, she decided to create a Wound Spritz (a hydrosol-essential oil blend) to protect them from infection and help them heal more quickly and to also help alleviate pain. She selected three Oshadhi brand hydrosols (Yarrow, Helichrysum, and Witch Hazel) and three essential oils (Ginger, Helichrysum, and White Champa Leaf) and placed them on a stool in front of me so I could watch her wizardry. She also set out a bottle of pure liquid Aloe and a small, 2oz. brown glass bottle to hold the concoction.

Cynthia explained why she selected each ingredient for the formula:
·         Yarrow – It’s anti-inflammatory, and it will help heal wounds and anything that’s bleeding.
·         Helichrysum – It’s the “go to” choice for healing bruises and wounds.
·         Witch Hazel – It’s somewhat antiseptic for wounds and also really nice on the skin.
·        Ginger – It helps with pain and is very nurturing.
·        Helichrysum – In this blend, the essential oil will help support the wound-healing aspect of the    Helichrysum hydrosol.
·        White Champa Leaf – It’s a more spiritual oil, and it will help provide insights around the    emotions involved.
·      Aloe – The liquid Aloe Cynthia used came in an Oshadhi hydrosol bottle, but she explained that it’s not a hydrosol. She included it because it’s very soothing to the skin.
Cynthia wanted the Wound Spritz to be concentrated and more potent to help heal the injuries, so she didn’t dilute the formula with water. She combined equal amounts of each of the three hydrosols in the brown bottle, leaving about half an inch of empty space at the top. Then she added the Aloe and the three essential oils. Here’s the formula:
Yarrow (hydrosol) – 33%
Helichrysum (hydrosol) – 33%
Witch Hazel (hydrosol) – 33%
Ginger (essential oil) – 6 drops
Helichrysum (essential oil) – 2 drops (Cynthia used less of this because it’s supporting the hydrosol.)
White Champa Leaf (essential oil) – 4 drops
Aloe (pure liquid) – 10 drops
I was instructed to always shake the bottle really well to thoroughly blend the oils and water-based hydrosols before using the spray.
Cynthia spritzed my wounds during the session, and the smell was very strong. It didn’t affect her, but it made me cough a little. Although inhaling it isn’t harmful, I made a point of trying not to breathe it in when I used it at home. Cynthia said that the Ginger essential oil was causing my coughing and that if she were to make the formula again, she would only add 2 drops of that instead of 6 drops. Another option to cut back on the intensity of the smell would be to pour some of the blend on a cotton ball and simply dab it on the wounded area.
I ended up spritzing my wounds two or three times a day and taking photos each night to document the healing process. I typically bruise easily (although the bruising sets in gradually), and both bruises and wounds on my legs tend to heal very slowly. This time, however, no additional bruising set in, and the healing process was noticeably faster.
The largest scrape on my left leg was a little swollen when Cynthia first sprayed it, and the swelling was gone that same night. By the end of the second day, that same scrape was drier and looked more like a scab. There was redness around all of the wounds that did not increase over time, and the wounds themselves began to dry up more and more and shrink a little with each ensuing day. By the fifth day, the largest scabs on my left leg and right knee had shrunk substantially. By the seventh day, they looked even better. The photos below document these healing results. 


Photos (left to right): Left leg on first night of treatment, on fifth night, and on seventh night.


Photos (left to right): Right knee on first night of treatment, on fifth night, and on seventh night.
During my session, Cynthia described her thought process for determining which of the ingredients from Mother Earth to use in a new blend. She begins by asking herself, “What do I have on hand? And out of what I have on hand, what would work really well for the situation?” She explained that she could have made a variation on the Wound Spritz with half of the ingredients that she ended up using. “If I just had two of the hydrosols, I could still do quite a bit with those. Even if I just had one, I could still do quite a bit with it,” she said. After selecting the hydrosols, she then looks at which essential oils would enhance the blend.
Cynthia said that another variation on the Wound Spritz could be made with just the three hydrosols, if someone only had those on hand. She explained that the essential oils make the spritz stronger and shape the overall feel of the blend, but it would still be effective with just the hydrosols. This option (without the essential oils) would even be safe for use on children and pets. Cynthia cautioned, however, that for use on children or puppies less than 1 year old, the hydrosol blend should be diluted with 50% purified water.      
If the Wound Spritz will be used on a short-term, regular basis, it doesn’t need to be refrigerated but should be kept out of direct sunlight and heat. If it will be used sparingly and stored indefinitely, then it should be refrigerated. Cynthia said that it will be good for about nine months to one year.

Massage for High Blood Pressure

By K McCarty, Student
Summer 2013

High blood pressure; hypertension

Benefits of massage include reducing hypertension and lowering blood pressure.
The cause of high blood pressure is divided into two large categories as essential hypertension and secondary hypertension. The cause of essential hypertension is unknown, but a person's lifestyle and genetic factors have been said to be involved. Secondary hypertension, on the other hand, is known to be caused by kidney diseases and diseases of the vascular system

Symptoms: Most people do not notice problems with their blood pressure. Numbness, headache, and stiff neck, hands, and feet are common signs.

It is possible that blood pressure can increase due to tension. It is necessary to warm up before therapeutic massages by massaging softly first. Avoid applying intense pressure.

Vascular massage is a way to help to lower blood pressure.
     For example, a 15 minute vascular massage would look like the following:
Fingers: Grip each finger and twist to the left and right.
Arms: Using the whole palm, twist the forearm between the wrist and shoulder.
Legs: Twist the legs from the toes to the thighs in the same manner in which the fingers and arms are massaged.
Head: Use the palm of the hand  and massage in a circular motion, between the forehead and the temple.


Step by Step Instructions for Doing an Enema

By Becky Makool, guest blogger

An enema is the injection of a large amount of liquid into the rectum to flush out and cleanse the colon.

Here are a couple great resources to check out before you try your first enema:

" How to Do an Enema Safely from Home (Kimberly Davidson)

" Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Giving Yourself an Enema and Were Afraid to Ask


" When you have privacy and time to relax without distractions 
" Preferably anytime after you have emptied your bowels that day


HOW TO DO AN ENEMA What You Will Need:
- A hot water bottle kit from Walgreens or any large pharmacy (costs less than $20)

-  Hot water bottle
- Rubber hose P Plug P Hook P Shut-off clamp

- Nozzle (enema pipe or rectal tip)
- Organic coffee or tea or another recommended product (organic Chamomile tea works great)
 - A gallon of distilled water

- KY lubricating jelly or an organic oil such as olive oil or coconut oil
- A large towel


How to Prepare (in the Kitchen) It can save a little time to do all of the following steps in the kitchen: 
" Set out the items above from the hot water bottle kit.

" Attach the clamp about 6 to 8 inches from the end of the hose. You want the clamp to be positioned near the end of the hose so you can reach it easily to control or stop the flow of the fluid while youre administering the enema. Its also important to attach the clamp correctly so that fluid doesnt leak out while youre getting set up. The part of the clamp that opens and closes is the bottom of the clamp. Run the hose through the hole at the top of the clamp and out through the hole in the bottom. Then close the clamp tightly.


" Insert the nozzle into the end of the hose that is closest to the clamp.

" Insert the hook into the small hole at the top of the hot water bottle.

" The hot water bottle holds 64 ounces (half a gallon) of fluid. Heat 64 ounces of distilled water and prepare the coffee or tea following the instructions on the package. If you boil the water to make the tea or coffee, you must either add more cold water to the finished product or allow the tea or coffee to cool down to a comfortably warm temperature before you pour it into the hot water bottle. WARNING: You could easily burn yourself if the water is too hot when you administer the enema.

" Pour the fluid into the hot water bottle (using a kitchen funnel makes this easier).

" Screw the plug tightly into the hot water bottle and continue to hold the bottle upside down or else the fluid will pour out through the hole in the plug.

" Attach the upper end of the hose to the plug (after double-checking to make sure that the clamp is tightly closed at the other end of the hose).

" Turn the hot water bottle over so the hook is on top and head to the bathroom.


How to Prepare (in the Bathroom)
" Place a large towel on the bottom of the bathtub.

" Set the tube of KY jelly (or the oil) on the edge of the bathtub so its within easy reach.

" Hang the hot water bottle on the back of the bathroom door (on the doorknob) if the door is near the bathtub. If not, hang it on something else near the tub. You can hang it from the showerhead if thats all thats available, but the height of the hot water bottle determines the rate of flow of the fluid. The fluid flows more slowly if the hot water bottle is closer to you. The farther away it is, the faster the fluid will flow. It feels more comfortable when the fluid is flowing more slowly. Pressure from the intake of the fluid doesnt build up as quickly when the flow is slower, so it tends to be easier to take in more fluid. The more you can take in, the better. The goal is to continue to take in the fluid until the hot water bottle is empty.

How to Administer the Enema:
" Sit down on the towel in the bathtub with your knees drawn up.

" Rub some KY jelly or oil on the nozzle and on your rectum.
" Insert the nozzle into your rectum, keeping your knees up, and open the clamp so the fluid will begin to flow.

" Keep your hand on the clamp or hose to prevent the nozzle from coming out as the fluid flows into your colon. You can recline back as much as possible while still holding the hose.

" Take some deep breaths and relax. The more you can relax, the easier it will be to take in more fluid. You can feel the pressure build as the fluid goes in. If the pressure is building too quickly, you can close the clamp for a minute to allow the pressure to lessen or you can partially close it to slow down the flow. Again, the goal is to take in all of the fluid. It may require a little practice (two or three enemas done over time) before you can take in all 64 ounces of fluid.

" Remove the nozzle and lay back on the towel (still keeping your knees up) after youve taken in all of the fluid or as much as possible.

" Continue to focus on breathing deeply as you hold the fluid in and begin to rotate your body 360 degrees from right to left. Rotating your body in this manner will allow the fluid to fully coat your colon. Lie on your right side first and try to hold that position for about 15 seconds. Then turn and lie on your stomach for about 15 seconds (or kneel and lean your forehead down on the towel if your tub is too short to permit you to stretch out). Then rotate again and lie on your left side for about 15 seconds. Finish by rotating back to your original position.

" Hold the fluid in for as long as possible. The goal is to keep it in for at least 5 minutes (up to 15 minutes), but it will probably require some practice to gradually build up to that. It helps to continue to breathe deeply and focus on relaxing while holding in the fluid. Sometimes repeating a simple mantra in your head (such as I can, I can, I can) can help you to relax and hold the fluid in longer, too.

" Move to the toilet when you know that you cant hold it in any longer. Although the colon will empty fairly quickly, you may need to stay put there for 5 to 10 minutes. The colon will probably release fluid at least two or three times, if not more often.

How to Clean Up:
" Hold the hot water bottle over the bathtub or set it down in the tub and remove all of the attachments (except the hook). That way, any fluid remaining in the bottle and hose will drain into the tub and not onto your floor.

" Set the small attachments in the bathroom sink or on a washcloth or hand towel near the sink. Leave the hose in the tub.

" Rinse out the hot water bottle immediatelyso the tea or coffee residue inside wont have time to dryby running warm water (not too hot) into it from the bathtub faucet and using a mild soap like a liquid hand soap or dish detergent. Then rinse the bottle thoroughly with warm water and hang it by the hook on the showerhead to drain and dry.

" Hold one end of the hose under the faucet and run warm water through it. Then take a sponge or a washcloth with some mild soap on it and thoroughly wipe off the outside of the hose. Rinse it in warm water and hang it over the showerhead to drain and dry.

" Wash all of the small attachments thoroughly with hot water and soap and place them on a clean towel to dry.

" Pack the hose and attachments back in the box that they came in when everything is dry and store the box under your bathroom sink or wherever you have room for it. The hot water bottle should be stored flat in a dark, cool, and dry place, so if it fits, it can go under the sink, too. Dont place anything heavy or sharp on top of it.

" Gather up all of the dirty towels and washclothes and toss them in the washing machine.

Massage Therapy for IBS

What is IBS?
Even though the cause of IBS(Irritable Bowel Syndrome) is not known, there are ways to help relieve the pain. IBS is a sensitivity of the intestines which may be caused by diet, antibiotics, stress, and genetics.

Mucus in Stool
Stomach Cramps
Anxiety or Depression
Treating IBS The Natural Way!
Stress is a big factor when it comes to imbalance of the body. Getting a massage helps relax the body and forget about the stress of life. When getting a massage the body releases a chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is the "'good" feeling the body gets when its relaxed and happy. The muscles in the intestines cease up from pain or stress which makes it hard for blood and nutrients to flow through the body. Without the flow of blood through the intestines, it makes it hard for the intestines to absorb nutrition from the food we eat. So, massage helps relax those tense muscles enabling blood to flow more smoothly.

Massage therapists can also massage the abdominal area to help break up and move stool if they have constipation. Massage can also relieve people of IBS symptoms if they have diarrhea. These massage techniques can be done at home. Have your massage therapist show you how to relieve your symptoms of IBS with massage.




Relief At Home!
If you're having constipation or diarrhea problems you can massage your large intestine to get relief. Your ascending colon starts on the right side of your abdomen, comes up just below your rib cage, and descends down the left side of your abdomen. Here's a massage that you can do at home:
Start from your descending colon to help clear out stuck stool.
Make a fist and massage down towards your feet a couple inches at a time. Massaging until you get to your ascending colon.
Then, at your ascending colon take an open palm and follow your ascending colon to your descending colon in one smooth stroke.
Take both fists and run them down both sides of your abdomen (only going in a downward direction).
Repeat steps 1-4.
Use oil (Almond, Vegetable, etc.) to lubricate your abdominal area so it's easier to massage. I found it easier to do this colon massage when laying down.

Read More Blog Articles

10/31/2017 - Energetics of EFT Tapping Points
9/11/2017 - What To Do With Rosehips
12/8/2016 - Make Easy Essential Oil Blends for the Holidays
11/15/2016 - Natural Therapies for Anxiety
11/3/2016 - Natural Therapies for Insomnia
10/30/2016 - What Does Energy Healing Feel Like
9/24/2016 - GALLSTONES Essential Oils QiGong and More
9/23/2016 - DEPRESSION Distant Energy Healing w Medical QiGong
9/11/2016 - INSOMNIA Essential Oils and Ear Reflexology
9/1/2016 - Essential Oil Acupressure for Rosacea
6/11/2016 - Acupuncture and Massage to Quit Smoking
5/23/2016 - The Energy of Gall Stones
12/30/2015 - Acupuncture and Massage for Anxiety
12/28/2015 - 5 Best Ways to Use Massage Therapy
12/28/2015 - Want To Try Acupuncture Try This First
7/9/2015 - Great QiGong Q&A
4/4/2015 - Digestive Massage
3/12/2015 - Horse Acupuncture
3/5/2015 - How to Make an Essential Oil Cream or Salve
12/2/2014 - New Acupuncture School Space
8/16/2014 - Stretch Marks Massage and Essential Oils
4/3/2014 - Energy Healing and Encountering Negative Energy
3/24/2014 - INSIGHT Stuck Emotions in Earth Element
3/11/2014 - TCM Cupping Therapy
1/16/2014 - What To Do With Expensive Essential Oils
12/20/2013 - Essential Oils for the Heart Center
12/20/2013 - Acupuncture in Massage School
12/6/2013 - Blood Building Syrup Herbal Recipe
11/5/2013 - TCM and SAD Seasonal Affective Disorder
10/26/2013 - How to Make a Magical Wound Spritz
7/30/2013 - Massage for High Blood Pressure
5/5/2013 - Step by Step Instructions for Doing an Enema
3/18/2013 - The Amazing Extraordinary Unused Power of BITTERS
10/30/2012 - Black Bean Soup
8/31/2012 - 5 Element Nutrition Earth Element
3/27/2012 - Medicinal Mushroom Risotto
3/23/2012 - Case Studies and Meridians
3/23/2012 - Tui Na Massage
3/22/2012 - Arthritis and Massage Therapy
3/22/2012 - Headaches and the Body
3/21/2012 - Cupping, Moxa and Gua Sha
3/20/2012 - Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & Massage Therapy
3/13/2012 - Massage Therapy for IBS
8/10/2001 - Issue Solving Meditations
8/10/2000 - What is Medical QiGong?
10/1/1999 - Three Centered Mediation
8/1/1999 - Standing Meditation for Taiji
6/1/1999 - Taiji Experience
Page 1 from 1


Top of Page

| Home | Wellness Clinic | Mind Body | Schools | Contact | Sitemap

© Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture & Massage Therapy
2636 Spenard Rd. - Anchorage, AK 99503 | 907-279-0135


Oriental Healing Arts Center

List of Programs and Courses

Mind Body


Top of Page