Smoking out the flu

November 25, 2009

Suffering from a bout of winter flu? Chinese traditional medicine has its own answers – you can rebalance your bodies’ meridian with moxibustion, the smoky twin to acupuncture, or bleed the bad toxins away with wet cupping.

The practice of burning moxa, the herb mugwort, above or on the skin can treat many ills, according to moxibustion therapist Fan Changwei.

Usually associated with just needles, acupuncture in fact consists of two elements, demonstrated by its Chinese name “zhen jiu”. “Zhen” is the inserting of needles into acupoints in the body and “jiu” is moxibustion, the burning of moxa over the body.

Fan plans to use the moxa as his own vehicle to battle winter flu, including H1N1. He advises a moxibustion treatment which focuses on the Shenzhu acupoint on the upper back, believed to strengthen the immune system.


Or there is the more invasive option.

Wet cupping is said to be good for respiratory conditions.

Professor Jia Yucheng makes a cut on the skin and then uses the traditional medicine treatment of cupping to draw blood out of the incision.


Photo credit: David Gray

Video credit: Wang Shubing


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This form of therapy is available in many massage parlours in China but it requires perfect combination of hardware(the tool) with software(the person). Regrettably a therapist like Mr.Fan is difficult to find.

Posted by Terry Edmonds | Report as abusive

Hi Terry, have you had some bad experiences with bad therapists ?

Posted by marc.detemple | Report as abusive

Interesting. I’m aware of wet-cupping as I have been researching it for a couple of years on our blog.If it helps with flu, then I’m all for giving it a try, given the impending H1N1 pandemic.I note the therapist uses acupuncture needles (or something similar) to make the pricks for the wet-cupping, in a manner which must be quite painful (as can be heard from the patient in the background!). An alternative method would be be to use surgical blades, or even better, lancing pens specially designed for cupping (a bit like the lancing pens used in diabetes monitoring kits) which make the procedure virtually pain-free.Still not quite sure though how burning the moxa actually works to cure diseases. Wouldn’t mind trying it one day since it has been established for millenia in Chinese medicine! Good point made above, you gotta find the right therapists who are experienced, medically qualified and know what they are doing (I suppose that goes without saying really for any treatment or therapy)

Posted by Shuaib | Report as abusive

If it is well done, then it doesn#t hurt. And it coures effectively. I have seen that in China very often and one time I was treated in that way by myself.

Posted by HerbertVater | Report as abusive