Chinese Medicine: Cupping, Scraping, Ginger therapy, and medicinal Leeches.

  1. Home
  3. Chinese Medicine: Cupping, Scraping, Ginger therapy, and medicinal Leeches.

Traditional Chinese anti-inflammatory therapies include Cupping therapy, Scraping (Chinese Gua-sha), and Dipping feet in ginger water.

Cupping. (Traditional Chinese therapy)

This short article briefly reviews some prevalent treatment methods (even today) in traditional Chinese medicine. (Except for leech treatment which I have not experienced) I have rich experience in all of these treatments.


Cupping therapy.

Cupping therapy. (Anti-inflammatory)

Cupping and scraping treatment (Chinese Gua-sha). (Often performed in sequence)

Link: Cupping Therapy (Wikipedia)

Cupping and scraping therapies are common in traditional Chinese hospitals and massage places. (Gua-sha is done first when combined)

  • I had cupping therapy over one hundred times. (The specialist suggested that it be done after acupuncture.)
  • The suction creates light burns on the skin that have a circular form. It does not have as strong an effect as acupuncture, but I think it may relieve some symptoms, like flu.
  • The spots (light burns) on the body are not equal. Some are red-purple. Others show almost nothing. It is not random and is not explained by the technique.)
  • I believe that Cupping Therapy diverts inflammation from other body parts to the skin. (The burns "suck out inflammation.")

The main risk is having a superficial infection of the irritated area.


Scraping anti-inflammatory Therapy. (Authentic image from China)

The scraping therapy is unpleasant but usually not very painful; the scraping seems particularly violent; this is not the case! 

Scraping anti-inflammatory Therapy. (Authentic image from China)

Scraping anti-inflammatory Therapy. (Chinese Gua Sha)

The scraping technique (Gua sha) is often used in Chinese traditional medicine hospitals, clinics, and many massage places.

  • The treatment is done by scrubbing the skin using an animal's horn or polished, smooth, hard stone. 
    • Frequently, treatment is combined with cupping.
  • The scrubbing operation is usually performed on the back, limbs, and chest. The therapist lubricates the area (to prevent friction wounds) and performs controlled pressure operations with elongated movements. The treatment is unpleasant and sometimes involves slight pain.
  • I have performed the scraping treatment dozens of times over the years with no side effects; the signs usually disappear that day or the next day.
  • According to the explanations I received, this treatment has no side effects.

The purpose of treatment (according to the Chinese version) is to strengthen the immune system by removing excess moisture.

  • To my understanding, the action of scrubbing the skin over large areas creates slight surface bleeding. Scraping diverts inflammations (like cupping) from essential internal organs to the skin surface, thus helping heal faster.


Ginger root has anti-inflammatory properties.

Ginger root has anti-inflammatory properties.

A simple and inexpensive anti-inflammatory recipe based on dipping feet in ginger water.

This traditional Chinese recipe is very suitable for all types of flu and, in fact, for many inflammatory diseases.


  • Rinse a generous amount of ginger root, cut it into thin strips, and add one tablespoon of salt and a small dose of vinegar. Boil the ginger in a large pot with a large amount of water. (Preferably in a pressure cooker) After boiling, the water has an orange-brown color. The boiling water should be poured into a large bucket; the water can be filtered, optional. You can leave a small amount to use for drinking. (Without the salt)
Application: Be careful! Great care is required in handling the boiling water.
  • When the water is still boiling, put your feet on the edge of the bucket without contacting the boiling water. Put a large, dry towel on your feet. At this point, you absorb only the ginger vapor.
  • When the water cools down a bit to the level where you can dip your feet, soak your feet for about 20 minutes; when you are done, dry your feet thoroughly.

Ginger root has powerful antioxidants well absorbed through the skin and conveyed immediately through the bloodstream. 


Medical leeches. (Not a Chinese therapy)

Medical leeches. (Not a Chinese therapy)

Medical leeches may significantly improve the healing of wounds originating from pressure and necrosis wounds.

Medical leeches can be very effective in healing external wounds. (Can be effective in patients with type 2 diabetes)

  • The leeches release potent enzymes that prevent blood clotting in the affected area. Sucking the blood improves blood and lymph circulation, removes toxins accumulated in the contaminated area, and thus helps the area's recovery. 
  • This is the only treatment I have not experienced, all the treatments listed on this site. In my opinion, treating medical leeches is ineffective in systemic and internal diseases. However, leeches have no significant side effects. (Except maybe disgusted)

Medical leeches are still considered an effective treatment in some cases. The main risk is infection by parasitic pathogens.


These anti-inflammatory methods may look like home remedies but have health benefits.

Frequently asked questions and answers:
Are the mentioned methods still used today in China?
The mentioned methods are widely used in China. These methods can be applied without medical supervision and are available in almost every business dealing with massage and traditional Chinese medicine.
In your experience, have these traditional Chinese techniques had a positive effect?
I have many years of experience in Chinese medicine, I have performed these techniques hundreds of times, and I feel a change for the better. The mechanism of action of these techniques makes sense, being anti-inflammatory.
As in the photo, doesn't the action of scraping the skin cause severe damage and bleeding?
The scraping action seemed at first very aggressive to me. It is unpleasant but not painful because the therapist applies oil to the back. The bleeding is subcutaneous that does not damage vital organs. The bleeding passes after one to two days, without side effects.
Reading the article was Interesting/Beneficial?
May interest you:
Add New Comment
We use cookies to improve the user experience on the site. Learn moreI Agree