Cupping, Gua Sha, and Moxa - Dr. Alex Chen

Cupping, Gua Sha, and Moxa - Dr. Alex Chen

Cupping, gua sha, and moxibustion are key therapeutic applications that can either be used as an adjunct to acupuncture or a treatment protocol on its own. Cupping is a suction technique that draws superficial tissue into a cup which helps improve circulation. Gua sha is a healing protocol that involves gently spooning or scraping to create transitory therapeutic petechiae called sha which represents extravasation of blood in a problem or pain area. Moxibustion (known as moxa) involves the heating of acupuncture points with a smoldering mugwort herb and is used to stimulate, circulate, and counteract cold and dampness in the body to promote the smooth flow of qi and blood.

Dr. Alex Chen is a master of herbs, qi gong and tui-na. He has taught at South Baylo University, Yuin University and Royal University of America as well as teaching numerous professional and continuing education seminars in the U.S. and abroad. His love for Oriental Medicine is evident through his life-long devotion to the profession, and reflected by the passion and dedication he embodies, and the inspiration he provides to his children to pursue the same career path.

The whole weekend was filled with clinical pearls so I'd recommend attend the full course but below are a few of my favorites:


  • Use 20 strokes, 8-15 cm long, on each area of the skin.
  • Go in ONE direction. Do NOT go back and forth.
  • If after 20 strokes there is no “sha,” go on to the next location.
  • For patients that are weak, young, our have chronic diseases, use light and slow strokes following the meridian direction, using the thickest part of the gua sha board.


  • When performing Moving Cupping, do not move the cup back and forth. It should be in a circular pattern.
  • The on/off cupping method is best for wind evil, rashes, or itching.


  • The lighter the color, the better the quality
  • Treatment should be at least 20 minutes but no more than 1 hour in general
  • Time is KEY. Do NOT stop moxa treatments until “evil” has been expelled & there is no more negative reaction.

MISSED THE CLASS? No worries, it was all recorded so this wisdom has been preserved for a lifetime. You can get Dr. Chen’s 2-part class, Cupping, Gua Sha, and Moxa, Part I and Cupping, Gua Sha, and Moxa, Part II, here. If you are an Annual Gold Pass Member, find all of Dr. Chen’s videos here to begin your complimentary viewing.

Let me know how these treatment protocols have helped your practice!
Donna Chow, L.Ac.