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Topical and Exterior Treatments

Presented by: George Hsu

What are Topical and Exterior treatments?

Other than acupuncture needles, OMDs (Oriental Medicine Doctors) work with many other external treatment methods. Since there is no “one treatment for all” in OM, your OMD will decide what treatment method is ideal for you based on the diagnosis.

Topical and exterior treatments are basically special techniques and tools that OMDs use on the body and along the meridians.

All these treatment methods can be used individually or together with acupuncture.

Different OMDs may have different preference on their favorite “tools”, it is all up to their treatment approaches as well as their treatment styles.



Examples of Exterior Treatment methods:

Moxa (Moxabustion):

  • Ingredient: Mugwort (Artemisia)
  • Warming in nature
  • Also available in many different forms: herb for decoction, patches, and etc.
  • Commonly used for gynecological and menstrual issues


Ba Guan (Cupping):

  • Glass, plastic, silicon, bamboo are the most common materials of cups
  • Stationary or moving
  • Main functions include release toxins, clear stagnations, relax muscles


Gua Sha (Scraping):

  • Stone, jade, horns are the 3 common materials of scraping tool
  • Main functions are similar to cupping
  • Both cupping and gua sha may create purple/red bruise marks that are known as “Sha” in OM
  • May feel relief right after treatment



  • Differs from regular massage, tuina work along meridians and collaterals
  • Lots of different techniques
  • Can be used to move stagnation, relaxes muscles, tonify or sedate a specific acupuncture point



  • Lots of varieties for different purposes
  • Unlike most liniments that covers the pain by numbing or menthol cooling sensation, OM type liniments have herbal ingredients that help treating the cause.
  • OMDs often use liniments when doing cupping, gua sha, and tuina.


Zheng Gu ShuiZheng Gu Shui (Bone Correct Liquid)

  • Cooling
  • Functions: Muscle and joint pain, such as strains, backpain, arthritic/rheumatic pain.
  • Cautions: Not to use on open wound or damaged skin. Do not use during pregnancy.


Po Sum On Oil

  • Warming
  • Functions: mild muscle aches and joint pain. Can also be used for insect bites, burns, headache, chest rub for cough, and stomach discomfort.
  • Cautions: Not to use on open wound or damaged skin. Do not use during pregnancy.


Die Da Wan Hua Oil (Thousand Flowers Healing Oil)

  • Functions: Reduce bruising and swelling, mild muscle and joint pain, strains, and sprains. Can also be used for mild burn.
  • Cautions: Not to use on open wound or damaged skin. Do not use during pregnancy.


Yunnan Baiyao

  • Comes in capsule, powder, plaster, and spray forms.
  • Functions: Improve blood circulation and boost immune system. It is also used to stop bleeding, reduce inflammation, and promote healing of the wound.
  • Cautions: Consult with OMDs if use during pregnancy.


Ching Wan Hung (Burn Cream)

  • Functions: Treats all kinds of skin burns. Reduce pain, reduce inflammation, and promote wound healing.