Fire Cupping and Back Scraping Could Save Your Life!

Fire Cupping (bá guàn)

Back in 2005 I thought I was going to die… literally, it was the worst Flu I had ever experienced. Maybe it was from the new environment in China, or perhaps it was a random winter bug! No matter where it came from, it kept me in bed very achy muscles. I couldn’t get out of bed to visit the bathroom- it was that bad. I quickly decided that I would need help or else I’d be a goner. At the time I was dating a Vietnamese girl who was studying at the Southern Yangzte University of Wuxi, which is what I called home for the first month I was in China. After a distress call she immediately came to my apartment, flipped me face down, and started scraping my back with a washed coin. She poured White Flower Oil (白花油) all over my back during this process. It sucked. It burned. And I could be forgiven for thinking that she was helping the flu kill me even faster!

Back Scrapping
Back Scraping (guā shā)

After about 15 minutes of this I actually felt a bit numb. I could tell that my back was fully swollen red. The medicinal smell had already soaked me to the bone. This was my first experience with Gua Sha (刮痧) and I was hoping I would never need to go through that pain ever again. A few years later I noticed glass cups being used on some guests at a local spa. I also noticed big round dots on the backs of beach-goers. When I probed further I realized they got a procedure done called Ba Guan (拔罐). As you can see in the first picture of this post, Ba Guan uses suction to pull tight on your skin. This, according to thousands of years of practice, extracts impurities from your skin and blood. When you are feeling ill for a few days with symptoms such as tiredness, upset stomach, cough, sore throat, or even acne, you may consider having one of these two procedures done. It is not magic, however, it is imperative that these techniques be part of a healthy lifestyle. Remember, most Traditional Chinese Medicine is part of the cure, not a silver bullet.