Cupping

Definition

Cupping: a healing modality in Traditional Chinese Medicine that uses small cups to suction the skin to disperse and break up stagnation by drawing congested blood or energy to the surface.

Pain results from the congestion, stagnation, and blockage of energy, fluids, lymph, phlegm, and blood. Cupping is a method of breaking up the blockage to restore the body’s natural flow of energy.

Common Questions

How is cupping therapy done?

The cups are made from plastic, glass, bamboo, or silicone.

There are primarily three cupping techniques: dry, wet, and flash.

  • Dry cupping is the most popular and is a decompression technique.
    • A dry cup is placed over the treatment area, and a vacuum is created (by flame or with an air pump) in the cup to draw the skin and underlying tissue toward the surface.
  • Wet cupping is similar to dry, with one exception.
    • Before the cups are applied, the area is sanitized, then tiny incisions are made in the skin, so when the cups are applied, the suction draws out blood.
  • Flash cupping is most often used for upper respiratory conditions.
    • The cups are applied and quickly popped off again.
    • This method is commonly used for treating children.

What are the benefits of cupping therapy?

  • Improve blood flow
  • Improve immunity by increasing lymphatic output
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Calm the nervous system
  • Stretch muscles and connective tissue
  • Loosen restrictions and adhesions in the tissue
  • Provide relaxation
  • Optimize athletic performance
  • Improve overall wellbeing

Are there any side effects of cupping?

The cup’s vacuum suction can break small capillaries in the tissue, causing purple or red circles on the treated area. This process promotes the healing mechanisms within the body. The circles can last for a few days.

History

  • Hippocrates discussed cupping in his writings as a way to correct imbalances within the body.
  • In Traditional Chinese Medicine, cupping was written about in 281 CE.
    • During the Tang dynasty, cupping was the primary treatment for tuberculosis.
  • Cupping was used in Native American, Egyptian, and Islamic medicine.
  • From the 1500s to the late 1800s, it was offered by attendants at public bathhouses.
    • Cupping was used for chest pains, indigestion, muscular problems, and colds and flu.

Resources

If you are curious, what a cupping therapy session looks like, refer to YouTube to watch a session for free.

If you would like to experience a cupping therapy session, many acupuncture, massage therapy, and alternative medicine offices offer this service.

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