pain relief

Why the Olympics loved Cupping

What has 19 gold medals and looks like he was kidnapped by alien leeches?

What has 19 gold medals and looks like he was kidnapped by alien leeches?

Cupping had its very own Olympic moment in Rio this year as many athletes, especially the swimmers, had what appeared to be circular bruises on their backs, shoulders, and sometimes elsewhere on their bodies.  “That’s been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy,” said American gymnast Alexander Naddour.   “It’s been better than any money I’ve spent on anything else.”  Although there's been a ton of hype around this modality, we want to make sure our patients know the real truth about cupping including its pros and cons.

What is cupping and how does it work?
Cupping is one of the oldest forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, dating back to the 4th century. In a typical cupping session, either heat or air is used to create a suction in special cups that are placed on the body.   The vacuum that’s created pulls the skin and blood vessels in toward the cup, which is why they leave marks on the skin that can last several days.

The vacuum action created by the cups pulls blood to certain areas and helps improve circulation, loosening up muscles and joints, decreasing pain and breaking up obstructions.  It can have anti-inflammatory effects as well as aid detoxification.

Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Some practitioners will also apply small amounts of oil to the skin just before the cupping procedure, which allows them to move the cups up and down on particular acupoints or meridians.

What are the benefits of cupping?  What does it treat?
The main benefits are encouraging the inflammatory response of the body and speeding up muscular and soft tissue recovery after injury and strain.  It's most often used for muscular pain in the back and shoulders and for respiratory conditions like bronchitis and asthma.  

Will it work for me?
If you are interested in adding cupping to your treatment or want to know if its appropriate for your condition, please schedule a private acupuncture session or contact us at  Those who bleed easily, have inflamed skin, or are pregnant should not use cupping.  It also may not be appropriate for certain types of pain such as a stiff neck, pinched nerve or chronic low back pain.  Your practitioner will be able to determine your best course of treatment.

To cupping, 

Chalita and Amie

Natural Pain Relief through Needles

My patient Brian came in with pain in his foot and heel that limited his ability to run, bike or even walk without discomfort.  Plantar fascitis is a common injury I see frequently in the clinic, particularly in active, athletic people with jobs requiring they sit for hours at a time.  Brian came in at the early stages of his injury and committed to twice weekly acupuncture- so it took only 4 sessions for his pain to completely disappear.   He was thrilled and is now an acupuncture convert, scheduling monthly  “tune-ups” even when he’s not in pain, as he leaves the office feeling more balanced and better able to sleep at night.  “I’m convinced acupuncture helps me prevent injuries and illness now,” Brian said recently after running his second Dipsea race.  “I’m also amazed that a needle in my hand can stop pain in my foot!”
Many ask us how a needle inserted into one body part can stop pain in another area and heal the body.  Some think it must be a placebo effect or “all in your head”.  However numerous clinical studies have shown that acupuncture affects the body in measurable, scientific ways — reducing blood pressure and inflammation, for example, and increasing the circulation of endorphins- our body’s own natural pain-relieving chemicals.  Scientists have identified many of the physiological mechanisms at work, and there's evidence that the insertion of needles into designated acupuncture points speeds the conduction of electromagnetic signals within the body. These signals may increase the flow of hormones and other pain-relieving chemicals, as well as immune system cells, which aid healing.
So the next time you or a friend is in pain, think acupuncture!
Other Natural Pain Relievers

Hops.  The hops flower, which has been used in Western herbal traditions for inducing relaxation and sleep (and making beer), seems to have significant potential for pain relief that rivals some medications, and with fewer side effects.
 Capsaicin. Derived from hot chile peppers, topical capsaicin may be useful for some people in relieving pain. Capsaicin works by depleting substance P, a compound that conveys the pain sensation from the peripheral to the central nervous system.
 Ginger.  Ginger extract may help with joint and muscle pain because it contains phytochemicals which help stop inflammation. Few side effects have been linked to ginger when taken in small doses.
 Feverfew. Feverfew has been used for centuries to treat heatdaches, stomachaches, and toothaches. Nowadays it's also used for migraines and rheumatoid arthritis.  Pregnant women should avoid this remedy.
 Turmeric. This spice is used to relieve arthritis pain and heartburn. It contains a chemical called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is usually safe to use, but high doses or long-term use may cause indigestion. Also, people with gallbladder disease should avoid using turmeric.

To your pain-free summer,