Cupping

What Is Cupping?

Cupping therapy is an ancient form of traditional Chinese medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin. Suction is created using fire or mechanical devices such as hand or electrical pumps, thus forming a partial vacuum and enabling the cup to suck the skin, pulling in soft tissue, and drawing blood to that area. Cupping is often used on neck, shoulder and back.

Methods for Cupping

Cups will be left in place from 5 to 20 minutes and then removed. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Sometimes practitioners also move the cups around in a massage technique with massage lotion applied on the cupping area to make a better effect.

Traditional Chinese Theory of Cupping

According to traditional Chinese medicinal theory, when meridians are opened, invigorating energy can travel fluently in the body. As a result, Yin and Yang can keep good balance. Cupping is believed to be a very good way to open meridians through which energy flows to every part of the body.

Western Theory of Cupping

Cupping has been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries, and activate the skin. Cupping is a good way of deep tissue massage as well.

Effects of Cupping

Cupping is mainly recommended for the treatment of pain such as arthritis and sports injury, gastro-intestinal disorders, lung diseases such as chronic cough and asthma, and paralysis.

Safety of Cupping

Cupping is considered relatively safe. The cupping treatment in which suction is created using mechanical devices such as hand or electrical pumps is called air cupping. Air cupping is especially safe because it does not include the risk of fire and heat. However, cupping can cause some swelling and bruising on the skin. With the skin under a cup drawn up, local blood vessels will expand. This may result in small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. Depending on the degree of toxicity in the muscle tissue, treatment will result in either only a slight reddening of the skin for slight toxicity, or a rather nasty looking bruise of high toxicity. These bruises are usually painless, however, and will disappear within a few days of treatment.

Cupping should not be performed when patients have inflamed skin, high fever or convulsions. And patients who bleed easily are not suitable for cupping. Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back. If the cups are being moved, they should not cross bony areas, such as the ridges of the spine or the shoulder blades.

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