Insomnia is a common sleep disorder in modern times. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are multiple types of insomnia, and the deficiency of Heart and Spleen is a common type. For insomnia with the deficiency of Heart and Spleen, the article introduces a combination therapy of Gua Sha and cupping from Shi Qi, Dai Xinjuan and their team, who work in the Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing TCM University in China. It may be helpful for your clinical practice.
Table of contents
1) What is insomnia caused by deficiency of Heart and Spleen?
2) Gua Sha and cupping in insomnia therapy
3) Acupuncture points for insomnia caused by Heart and Spleen Deficiency
4) Glass cups and Gua Sha for the treatment
What is insomnia caused by deficiency of Heart and Spleen?
If someone suffers from insomnia caused by the deficiency of Heart and Spleen, in addition to being difficult to fall asleep and unstably sleeping with dreams, he may also have the symptoms of palpitation, forgetfulness, tiredness, lack of appetite, dizziness, paled face, weakness of limbs, feeling of abdominal distension or loose stool.
Gua Sha and cupping in insomnia therapy
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, both of Gua Sha and Cupping are based on the theory of meridian system. So the selection of acupuncture points is very important for the combination therapy. According to the principle of following specific channels and selecting acupuncture points, the therapy selects the Du Channel and the Bladder Channel of Foot-Taiyang as the channels that cups are retained.
Xin Shu and Pi Shu are two acupuncture points of the Bladder Channel of Foot-Taiyang on each side of the back. In the therapy of Gua Sha, the two acupuncture points are scraped firstly. Then the acupuncture points of San Yin Jiao, Si Shen Cong, An Mian, Shen Men and Tai Bai are scraped. The pressure to the first acupuncture points are more than to the other acupuncture points. Before the therapy of Gua Sha, the skin is smeared with massage oil, and a short-time test of gently scraping the acupuncture points should be done for making the skin adapted to Gua Sha.
For improving the deficiency, the therapy of Gua Sha takes the reinforcing way. Using the blunt part of a Gua Sha board is used, the pressure is medium and the scraping speed is slow. Each acupuncture point is scraped for fifteen to twenty times. And the therapy of Gua Sha takes five to ten minutes.
After the therapy of Gua Sha, the therapy of cupping is started instantly. The therapy uses fire cupping glass. The heating method is to put a stick with a burning alcohol cotton ball into a glass cup, rotate the fire around the centre space inside the cup for one or two circles, then take it out, and rapidly put the cup mouth on an acupuncture point. In the therapy, cups are retained on the Du Channel, the Bladder Channel of Foot-Taiyang and the acupuncture point of San Yin Jiao for ten to fifteen minutes. When the congestion of the skin is seen, the cups should be removed.
The patient accepts the combination therapy once a week, and the treatment takes eight weeks.
Acupuncture points for insomnia caused by Heart and Spleen Deficiency
The Du Channel is one of eight extraordinary meridians. It connects to Brain, so stimulating the channel is to improve mental illness like sleeplessness, forgetfulness, epilepsy, unconsciousness or convulsion. It can be also for treating heat diseases like fever or sunstroke.
Stimulating the Bladder Channel of Foot-Taiyang is a way to improve mental illness, too. Especially, Xin Shu is for improving the illness of Heart and the disorder of mental activities like cardiac pain, palpitation, sleeplessness, forgetfulness or epilepsy. Pi Shu is for improving the disorder of Spleen, Stomach and Bowels like the feeling of abdominal distension, inappetence, emesis, diarrhoea, dysentery, having blood in the stool or oedema. If a person always eats much but still feels hungry and loses weight, Pi Shu is an important acupuncture point for the disorder.
San Yin Jiao is an acupuncture point on the Spleen Channel of Foot-Taiyin. It is for improving the deficiency of Spleen and Stomach like borborygmus, the feeling of abdominal distension, or diarrhoea. It is also for improving palpitation or sleeplessness.
Shen Cong and An Mian are special acupuncture points outside channels. The acupuncture points named Shen Cong are four, so they are always called Four Shen Cong. They are on the top of the head, and they are for improving the disorder of mental activities like headache, dizziness, sleeplessness, forgetfulness or epilepsy.
The name of An Mian means peaceful sleep, because it is especially effective for improving sleeplessness, and it is also for improving headache, dizziness, palpitation or insanity.
Ling Shu, one of important TCM theoretic works, says, “For the diseases of five internal organs, you should choose twelve source points.” Shen Men is the source point of the Heart Channel of Hand-Shaoyin, while Tai Bai is the source point of the Spleen Channel of Foot-Taiyin. They are chosen because of the disorder of Heart and Spleen.
Shen Men is for improving the disorder of Heart and mental activities like headache, dysphoria, palpitation, forgetfulness, sleeplessness, dementia, insanity or epilepsy. Tai Bai is for improving the disorder of Spleen and Stomach like borborygmus, feeling of abdominal distension, diarrhoea, stomach pain, or constipation.
According to the clinical research of Shi Qi, Dai Xinjuan and their team, the combination therapy of Gua Sha and cupping significantly improves sleep quality of people who suffer from insomnia caused by the deficiency of Heart and Spleen.
Glass cups and Gua Sha for the treatment
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1. Shi Qi, Dai Xinjuan, An Hongli, Hou Yujiao, Zhu Yan，Chen Chen & Feng Jinxing. Effect of scraping combining with cupping on quality of sleep for patients with insomnia of both the heart and spleen deficiency, Journal of Nursing Science, Dec. 2016, Vol. 31, No. 23.
2. Internal Medicine of TCM, China Press of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2017.
3. Science of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, China Press of Traditional Chinese Medicine, 2016.