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The Benefits of Blood Letting in Pain Management

By Roslyn Motter

So, hospitals have now using leeches in medical practice? There is nothing new in this.

Bleeding using leeches was normal practice in western medicine in the 1830s until it was discarded for more sophisticated techniques. In fact, the medicinal use of leeches dates back to the beginnings of civilization with mention made of it in Egyptian tombs and in ancient Chinese writings. The principle behind the use of leeches is to drain off stagnant blood.

Recently I have become particularly impressed with the great health results that can be achieved by blood letting (taking out stagnant blood). Blood letting is a fairly standard practice in acupuncture and possibly other alternative therapies.

Unfortunately, blood now has a bad vibe attached to it. Most people want to avoid contact with unknown blood.

However, if people could rise above these objections they would find that the benefits from shedding a little blood (and by a little, I mean just that) are profound. Just a couple of drops of blood taken from an acupuncture point can have a significant effect on blood pressure for example, in a matter of two hours.

Providing that a patient can afford to lose a little blood there are great benefits of bleeding (with some exceptions).

Firstly, the skin in the affected area is broken with a diabetic lance and then the blood is squeezed out. If a greater amount of blood needs to be extracted, a specially designed glass or plastic cup is applied over the site. The skin sucks into the cup and the pressure causes a large volume of blood to be extracted. Sometimes such a large amount comes out that the cup quickly fills with blood, making this quite a messy procedure. Where the underlying blood has not been circulating for quite some time, the blood that comes out will be dark in color, and fizzing or bubbling due to the heat in the area.

Cupping kits are sold at acupuncture suppliers. I have noticed glass cups for sale in Chinese supermarkets, although these require the use of a flame to cause them to attach to skin. The cupping kits used by acupuncturists usually work with a pumping device which is preferable because it is much easier to control the amount of flesh (and hence blood) that is sucked into the cup. The cup can sometimes be quite painful if it is applied to certain tender areas.

Situations that scream out for bleeding are red swollen lumpy areas such as gout on feet. I once treated a man who had been unable to walk for a week due to an enormous red lump diagnosed as gout, below his big toe. After the lump was pricked and a fair bit of blood squeezed out, the swelling quickly subsided and the man was astonished that the pain had dissipated and he was now able to walk without any discomfort. No other treatment would have worked so rapidly. He apparently has had no recurrence of the condition since that day.

Another person who had been hit by a baseball bat showed me his shin which was now a mottled black color. After pricking the entire area, a huge amount of blood was drained out over the course of an hour. The blood which oozed out was black in color and thick. However, at the end of the treatment his shin looked a whole lot better in color and appearance and his leg was much less painful. If the stagnant blood had remained in his shin it would have not only have been painful, it would have restricted fresh blood and qi circulation in the leg.

A few years ago I suffered from a heel spur, and at times I was in such agony I could only crawl around the house. The relief I experienced from pricking and cupping my heel and foot was absolutely fantastic. The internal heat in my foot was so great that the blood which poured from the pricked area sprayed into the cup with volcanic fury.

The beauty of blood letting is that it draws out the old, stagnant, overheated and often black blood, and allows the body to replace it with new, clean blood. Just a few drops of blood squeezed out makes a profound difference to the blood flow in the entire body.

Naturally, this is a medical practice and as with all things medical, should be used with caution. In particular, there are several contraindications for the use of cups. They should used not be used in the abdomen or lower back of pregnant women; on people with cardiac problems, diseases of the blood vessels, anemic or weak patients; on the throat region or when organs are inflamed or perforated. There are other contraindications which should be studied.

Bleeding should never be practiced on someone taking any blood thinning medication e.g. Warfarin, as the patient will not stop bleeding. Diabetic patients and patients with cardiac disorders should not be blood let. Anemic or weak patients should not be blood let as they can not afford to lose blood.

The purpose of this article was to draw attention to the use of blood letting as an alternative treatment to prescription medication. However it is recommended to seek the advice of a trained therapist before using it.

Roslyn J. Motter is a Sydney, Australia registered acupuncturist with her own clinic. She is also a children’s author and has recently published three children’s books - The Doofuzz Dudes Rescue Moondar; The Doofuzz Dudes and the Princess Detector; and the Doofuzz Dudes and the Babbling Bottles. The series are fantasy adventure stories and are most suitable for children aged 7 - 12 years. Woven into the adventures is a subtle theme of caring for the environment. Excerpts and illustrations from the books are available for viewing on and children can play games and win prizes on Her acupuncture website is


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