In the system of Chinese Medicine, cupping is one of the oldest methods that has been used for specific health purposes. History points back to this being used by different ancient cultures such as the Egyptians dating back to over 4,000 years ago. The Greeks also employed the use of cupping. It is reportedly been a part of Chinese Medicine for around 3,000 years.
What is cupping?
It involves taking glass cups of various sizes that are generally applied to the back. Clinically, a cotton ball is soak with isopropyl alcohol and is lit with a match or lighter. With the cotton ball now having a small flame, it is placed under the cup for a very brief moment of time. Immediately after placing the flame under the cup, it is rapidly applied to the back of the patient. Normally, a type of oil is applied to the patients back. Mineral oil is frequently used, but due to the toxic nature of this oil, an organic oil that comes from plant based sources is preferred. When the cup is applied to the back it creates an airtight seal around the skin. The air contracts as it cool and literally sucks the skin up in a vacuum like way, pulling up the soft tissue of the skin. Another modern way is using a pump through a cup to create a vacuum in the same way. Most people that have had a cupping treatment done, report that it is extremely relaxing and is very unique and overall feels very good.
What is the reasoning behind cupping and how can it benefit health?
Cupping is believed to open up the pores of the skin, which helps the blood to circulate more freely, stimulating its free flow. In chinese medicine a very common word that is used to describe malfunction in the body is the term stagnation. Stagnation refers to blood or energy (qi) that is stuck or not moving freely. When things are not moving well and are stuck they can cause problems. The kidneys are thought to be the most important place where many body processes originate. By allowing the qi and blood to flow better you can free up the flow of energy in the various meridians of the body, which has an overall positive effect on not only that local area, but also on the whole body. Stagnation can cause many different symptoms including back pain, depression, mood swings, pain around the body, poor appetite, abdominal pain, constipation and stomach ache, etc…
Heat is also another cause of health problems in the body. Sometimes dry cupping is not enough to help relieve pain or stagnation in a particular part of the body. Therefore, wet cupping is used to help really facilitate free flowing qi and blood. Puncturing the skin and allowing it to bleed while cupping can be a very effective way to relieve pain.
Is cupping safe?
Cupping is considered safe, but the one thing that surprises most people about the treatment is how it can make the back turn purple for a day or two. For those that have severe stagnation, the color of the back will be an indicator as to how much stagnation there really was. These can appear like large hickeys or bruises on the skin that are 100% normal after a treatment. It probably wouldn’t be wise to go to the beach the day after though, you might get people heads turning and asking you questions as to whether or not you are ok. Some people are not suitable for cupping treatments and your practitioner will be able to determine whether or not this is right for you. Most find it to be very pleasurable and relaxing.
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