Often, when we think of needles, we think of those used for injections or blood tests.  Acupuncture needles bear little resemblance to these, mainly because they are solid (not hollow) and are very much finer (and therefore less painful).  However, they do have one very important feature in common in that they are sterile and designed for single use.  Needles may be inserted and immediately removed or may be left in place for up to 30 minutes, depending on the effect required.


Other forms of treatment alongside acupuncture needles.  One such treatment is "moxibustion" or "moxa".  In this treatment dried ground leaves, usually of the species Mugwort (artemis vulgaris in latin) are used either directly on the skin or just above the skin over specific acupuncture points or meridians.  The herb is lit and as it smoulders slowly heat permeates into the body and affects the flow of Qi and Blood in the area being treated.

Gua Sha

Gua Sha is a cleansing technique used by many practitioners of traditional medicines.  The technique dates back around 3000 years and involves the methodical application of pressure and stimulation of the skin using a round edged instrument.  Traditionally a china spoon or a simple coin was used but today the preferred instrument is a small scraper that is used with oil to aid application.

The scraping effect of the skin results in the appearance of small red or purple spots referred to as "sha".  The colour and degree of spots is indicative of a reaction.  The skin is not damaged in any way and the redness fades in a few days.


This technique works by creating a vacuum in small glass cups that are placed over specific acupuncture points or meridians.  The vacuum holds the cups in place and in turn helps promote the flow of Qi and Blood where stagnation is causing pain or discomfort.  Cupping is also very useful as a treatment for colds or flu and can promote a much faster recovery.