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Massage Techniques – Part 2

There is a lot of misinformation and prejudice towards Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and oriental techniques in general. Since this is what I specialise in I decided to talk about few manipulative techniques that can be used together (or separately) to restore the natural energy balance and body wellness.

Hopefully this small contribution to the body of knowledge on the web will help setting the record straight about the true and proven benefits of TCM.

This is the second part, and if you missed the first one you can find it here.

CUPPING

Cupping therapy might be trendy and “new agey” now, but it is definetely not new. It goes back to ancient Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures, described first also in an Egyptian papyrus dated 1,550 B.C. This therapy consists in placing special cups, heated with fire using alcohol or herbs, on the skin for a few minutes to create suction. The cups can be made of glass, bamboo or silicone, and the session can be described as “wet” or “dry”.

During a dry session of cupping only suction is used, and the cups can be removed and replaced quickly or simply dragged along your skin. During the wet cupping instead a tiny cut on your skin is made and the suction of the cups is used to drag out a small quantity of blood. Your practitioner, your medical condition, and your preferences will help determine what method is used, but to be honest I have never seen wet cupping being used in a Western country.

At the base of cupping’s principles there is the belief that the suction facilitates the healing with the flow of blood and “qi” in the body. This may relieve local muscle tension, but generally improve relaxation, overall blood flow and promote cell repair. It may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the scars. Cupping has been used to treat a wide range of conditions, including migraines, anxiety, fertility, rheumatic disease, blood disorders, skin disorders etc.

Before you get concerned, I must say there aren’t many side effects associated with cupping. But the ones you may experience will typically occur during your treatment or immediately after. These includes feeling lightheaded or dizzy, sweating or nausea. If you will experience wet cupping there is an higher risk of infection, burning or bruising, although some red bruises left by the cups are perfectly normal and will disappear in maximum 3 to 4 days. Extra caution should be taken also for children, seniors, pregnant or menstruating women, but generally always check with your GP or pratictioner first.

GUA SHA

Gua sha is a natural, alternative therapy coming from ancient China that involves scraping your skin with a massage tool to improve your circulation. The name comes from the word “gua”, that means “scraping” and “sha”, which are the transitory therapeutic petechiae intentionally created by the pratictioner with the tool.

Usually before the session the pratictioner applies massage oil on the skin, then starts scraping it with short or long strikes and always towards one direction. Generally gua sha is performed on a person’s back, buttocks, neck, arms, and legs, but a gentle version of it is even used on the face.

This technique is intended to address stagnant energy, qi, in the body responsible for inflammation. Rubbing the skin’s surface is thought to help break up this energy, reduce inflammation, and promote healing. That is why it is usually used to relieve muscle and joint pain and relief musculoskeletal disorders. But gua sha can also boost the immune system healping treating a cold, fever, or problems with the lungs, and other benefits include helping women during menopause, insomnia, anxiety and fatigue.

But, does it have any side effect? As a natural healing remedy, I can say gua sha is safe. It should not be painful, but because it involves rubbing or scraping skin bruises can occur, although you should not bleed. Bruising usually disappears within a couple of days, but if you take blood thinners or had recent surgery you should not have the treatment done. As always, check with your GP and pratictioner.

Your eyes’ color reflects your health

If you have never heard about a complementary discipline called “iridology“, very briefly, it is the study of our eyes’ iris (the coloured part of the eye) as associated with diseases or potential developing illnesses.

Hippocrates, the Father of Medicine, first described it and it was rediscovered in 1860 by Ignacz von Peczely who devoted his life to this study. Iridology can help you understand what ‘optimum health’ means for an individual person, which behaviour you should stop or pick up for a better health condition and so on. The iris infact displays a unique insight into our health potential and disease dispositions and its patterns and pigmentation reveal the history of our genetically inherited health.

In this article I will talk briefly about the iris main pigmentations (colours) and their meaning. As you may know, the final adult colour is not present at birth, when it actually is either blue or slate grey depending on ethnicity. An individual’s true colour develops between 3 to 5 months and generally does not change, just variations in lighting can give an illusion of change of colour. Only some conditions that cause a dispersion of pigment or use of certain drugs may cause a colour change.

Iridology basics

There are three primary colour groups: blue, brown or mixed. Within each of them there are many different shades and all irises can be placed in one of these color groups. I know it can be hard to believe, but green eyes do not really exist as the green appearance of the iris is usually due to discoloration or yellow patches in a blue or mixed color iris. Let’s have a closer look at these three groups:

Blue Iris

Called also “lymphatic“, the colour can vary in shading from blue to blue/grey. Blue eyes are associated with fair complexions, often with blond hair. Young people with blue eyes tend to have ear, sinus, throat and breathing problems, such as asthma.

In later life these people may develop conditions such as arthritis, rheumatics and/or osteoporosis as they age. The lymph system of the body is often overloaded and this is a good reason why lymph drainage massage works well for people with blue eyes. The kidneys can be sluggish and this may lead to water retention.

Brown Iris

We associate brown eyes with people who have an olive complexion and dark hair and from physically strong ethnic backgrounds. Known also as “haematogenic“, brown eyed people are generally prone to have digestive disorders and gastrointestinal weakness.

People with deep brown eyes usually need more vitamins and minerals in their diet. This genetically low mineral status often leads to glandular disturbances, which can lead to blood and circulation disorders, such as varicose veins or haemorrhoids, and problems such as anemia.

Mixed Iris

Mixed colour, also called “biliary“, is a combination of blue and brown and can appear to be various shades of hazel, green and/or with a visible blue base. People with these eyes have a tendency towards sluggish liver and gall bladder conditions and have an emphasis on digestive weakness.

This group often suffers from blood sugar imbalances, particularly connected to the liver and gall bladder and pancreas function. Fluctuations in blood sugars may cause hypoglycemia (diabetes), with its symptoms of sudden, extreme tiredness, chocolate cravings and mood swings, among others.

From just color alone, the iris reveals much information. But remember the eye is a complex structure, a web of fibers forming a unique pattern of lacuna, defects, pigment spots and other iris markings. It is this the very individual pattern that is studied by an iridologist, and not only the particular type of structure marking is noted, but also its location on the iris chart is important to establish the iris/body connection and other individual information you will give before your consultation.

To read more about iridology itself: A look into Iridology

To find an iridologist near your area, check online in their professional body The Guild of Naturopathic Iridologists: Find your Iridologist