It’s an under utilized treatment which can help with all sorts of different health problems.
What Is Cupping Therapy?
Just like the name suggests, Cupping therapy involves use of a cup or cups, which are applied over the skin and a vacuum is created inside the cup. This is done using either heat (fire) or a suction device (manual or mechanical) to pull and hold the skin and underlying muscles inside the cup.
It’s used to help remove stagnation of Qi, blood and other fluids away from an injured area. Also helps remove blockages, relieves local congestion and improves circulation for pain relief and healing injuries.
History Of Cupping
There is evidence suggesting use of Cupping in Egypt dating back to at least 1550 B.C. In China cupping was being used around 1000 B.C. and is documented in the 2-3rd century book Handbook of Prescriptions For Emergencies by the famous Chinese medicine alchemist, Ge Hong. The ancient Greeks also used Cupping as a form of medicine. Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine used Cupping to treat many diseases.
Cupping is still used throughout the world to treat various health problems. I have met many patients from India, Central America and other parts of Europe who have had cupping for treatment of their injuries.
Common Uses Of Cupping
In the past cupping was used to treat minor ailments like insect bites, stings and minor infections. However, now practitioners use this modality to treat all sorts of different health problems.
- Injury and pain
- Weight loss
- For relaxation and
- Gastrointestinal diseases like constipation and diarrhea
- Lung problems particularly asthma, flu and common cold
- Infertility and other sexual disorders
- Menstrual pain
Benefits Of Cupping Therapy
- Boosts blood circulation
- Relieves pain and swelling
- Detoxification of superficial tissues
- Reduces lung and chest congestion
- Improves tissue mobility
Cupping For Injury And Pain Relief
Cupping is used most often for pain relief and recovery after injuries. I have found Cupping to be specially effective after an acute injury and for post surgical rehab. For example, cupping is very effective for treating low back pain. It’s helped a lot of my patients with chronic upper back and shoulder tightness and pain, specially in conjunction with acupressure.
In my experience it’s not only helpful for reducing swelling and removing congestion, it also helps separate different layers of skin, muscle and fascia. I find it helps break down adhesions and improves tissue mobility.
***Cupping therapy often creates a large, circular bruise which can remain for a few days. It’s nothing to be concerned about, it goes away with time.
Types Of Cupping Therapy
Cups in different shapes such as bells or balls are used. These are made from glass or plastic material. The procedure involves heating the cup then placing it directly on the skin. The skin under the cup is drawn up as the air inside the cup cools and contracts.
It is also called bleeding cupping or full cupping. A lancet is used to scrape the skin and the cup is placed over this area. The suction over the open skin pulls blood into the cup. Helps draw out swelling and coagulated blood.
A piece of cotton wool is soaked lightly in alcohol, ignited and placed inside the cup. This creates a vacuum and when the piece of cotton is removed, the cup is immediately placed on the skin to create the suction effect.
Also known as “moving cupping” or “sliding cupping”. A thin layer of oil is applied on the skin and the cup is moved back and forth using gentle suction. This is a great way to not only to bring stagnant blood and fluids up to the surface, but it also helps disperse these fluids through circulation.
An acupuncture needle is inserted in the skin and a ball of Moxa leaves (dried Mugwort herb) is burned on the acupuncture needle to heat the needle. Once the herb burns out, cup is placed over the needle and suction applied.
There are many other cupping methods used by experienced acupuncturists.
Type Of Cups
Cups have also evolved since the practice started. Initially, Cupping practitioners used animal horns, sea shells, bones, gourds and bamboo cups. Most modern practitioners use cups of various shapes and sizes made from rubber, plastic or glass. Here are some common ones used throughout the world.
- Glass cup
- Tin cup
- Rubber pump cup
- Bamboo cup
- Yak horn cup
- Vacuum pump cup
Contraindications And Precautions
Cupping should not be done:
Over eyes, ears, nose or mouth
Over thin, fragile skin
Over varicose veins
Over open wounds and skin lesions
On people who have impaired circulation or skin sensitivity
On diabetics, children or elderly (unless done with extra care)
On the abdomen and low back of pregnant women