Fire Up The Cup


I heard someone say the other day that I am human ‘being’, not a human ‘doing’. While we all are here to ‘do’ in life, it reminded me that we are also here to just ‘be’. We forget to take time to smell the flowers. Summer is upon us, and this is the time of year we ‘do’ a lot – so don’t forget to the balance of life and to remember just ‘be’ – sit back and relax in the Fire of summer.

In this issue:

  • New practitioner – but not new to TCM!
  • Learn about what is Cupping!

First a warm welcome to our newest practitioner Gary Chan! I am thrilled to have Gary on the Red Tree Wellness team. Gary (and Karyn) and I, are a part of the same Doctor of TCM graduating class, and we were part of a small group that did our fifth year internship hours in China. I know him well, and trust him and his skill. For those of you who know someone with chronic pain, such as facial and neck, Gary has a special focus treating pain, particularly dental related pain. For more on Gary’s story on entering the TCM world, please visit his Bio here. As always, book online at:


We now carry 100% organic, ethically sourced, hand-pressed Argan Oil, straight from Morocco by Saadia Organics!

Want a healthy alternative to gift giving? Gift certificates are available! Please inquire with the office for more details

Continuing on with our series of newsletters focusing on educating you about other modalities of Traditional Chinese Medicine that we use to enhance your treatment, our topic this Summer and Fire element time is Cupping! The time of Fire is a time of life, love, and inspiration. Life is in full swing as the sun shines more daylight (Qi) hours upon us. We soak in as much Qi and vitamin D as we can as it warms us and helps our life force to flow. While at the beach, ever notice some funny dark circle marks on someone’s back? Cupping therapy always gets a lot of attention in the summer time. We are going to reveal the secrets of these mysterious circles right now with Gary Chan, DTCM, RAc, RTCMP.:

What is cupping and what does it do?
Cupping Therapy is a method of applying a cup in which a partial vacuum is created on the skin for therapeutic purposes. Traditionally, it is called Horn Therapy because the instrument was made from an animal horn in historical times. Other possible materials to create cupping cups include bamboo, pottery, bronze and glass. Partial vacuum or suction are created by igniting something to burn out the air in the cup. This will causes the cup to be attached to (sucking on) the skin. There are also special equipment (cups) that create vacuum mechanically (using pumps and valve.) The area where the cup attaches will feel like sucking by a vacuum (mildly.) This procedure is actually rather comfortable as the negative pressure releases tension on soft tissues like massage. This part is referred to as ‘cup retaining’ and it will last for 5-15 minutes. After that, cups will be removed. Normally, one will feel relief instantly as waste material that is trapped in the deeper layers (blood vessel, muscle and others) has moved to a more superficial area (skin level) which will be metabolized and expelled from the body. This local tissue stimulation will often leave temporary marks on the skin. The color of these marks can vary from pale (no mark), pink, light red, scarlet red, purplish, to dark purple. To a trained practitioner, the color of these mark can provide important insight about the patient’s condition. Even though the mark looks like bruises, there is an important difference here. Unlike bruises, markings left from cupping therapy shall not be painful when touched. And this marking will naturally disappear in time span of one to two weeks.

What is the benefit of cupping and how it was used in Traditional Chinese Medicine?
Cupping stimulation can unblock meridians, activate Qi, stop pain, expel pathogens, and remove toxins. It is rather common for Chinese to use cupping to relieve muscle tension and restore strength in a household setting. In clinical setting, cupping can also used in conjunction with other therapies to treat things like the common cold, fever, cough, bronchitis, abdominal pain, stomach ache, diarrhea, soft tissue injuries, arthritis, hypertension, obesity, and many more.

A case study: 54 year old female patient came to the clinic with severe lower back and radiating pain to her right leg and reduced mobility. According to the patient, the pain is severe and rated at 7/10. The pain also stopped her from resting properly at night and performing her daily tasks. Physical exam found tender spots around the sacral iliac joint. The lower back muscle is tight and painful upon palpation. A thick blood vessel (purple) was found at the surface behind her right knee which suggested abnormal local circulation to the lower back. First treatment involved cupping with blood letting acupuncture behind her knee. The method was effective and instantly lowers her overall pain level to from 7/10 to 5/10. Acupuncture is followed immediately to further address her condition. When she came back for her second treatment, the intensity of her pain is about 5/10. After acupuncture treatment, multiple cupping was performed on her lower back and buttock area. Dark purple marks have drawn to the surface after the retaining of cups for 10 minutes. She felt much better (3/10 discomfort) after the treatment and her condition has stabilized since then. She got complete relief after another 3 follow up sessions.

— Gary Wai Wah Chan, DTCM, RAc, RTCMP

At this time, people that don’t like the heat of summer may want to cool down their body internally with a little help. Watermelons, bamboo and cucumbers are great to have more of this time of year to cool our internal furnace. Mint and chrysanthemum flower buds are also great natural foods to cool our body and throat and great to have as a tea. If that is not strong enough, then you likely will need an Acupuncture tune-up and possibly some Herbal medicine. Let us know if you have any questions – we’re here to help you!

Take good care and enjoy the Summer!

Good health to you,
Sonia F. Tan and The Red Tree Wellness team
Guiding you on your pathway to health…


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