Cupping therapy is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine. The earliest recorded use of cupping dates to the early fourth century.
Cupping, also termed as the "horn method" in ancient China is a therapy in which a jar is attached to the skin to induce local congestion and blood stasis through the negative pressure created by introducing heat by an ignited material inside a jar. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, balances and realigns the flow of qi, breaks up obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.
It is extremely effective in treating chronic back pain, dermatitis, discoloration, cough, asthma, fibromyalgia, stomach ache, arthritis. Cupping helps to detox the body and relieve pain.
There are different ways cupping can be performed.
- Fixed cupping. (a 10 to 15-minute procedure.)
- Flash cupping. Cup gets applied repeatedly and swiftly over the same place until the skin becomes hyperemic.
- Walking cupping. Massage oil is applied to the back and then only 1 or 2 cups are placed on the back. The practitioner slowly glides the cups over the patient's back. This is a fantastic myofascial release and in my opinion, is far more effective than a deep tissue massage.
Blood-letting cupping. Cupping can be transitioned into bloodletting in several ways. One way is to apply acupuncture to the patient, often on the patient's back. After needle extraction, cups are applied. A second option is to plum blossom the area first, instead of using acupuncture needles. The vacuum from the cups draws blood to the surface.
While cupping is considered relatively safe (especially air cupping, which does not include the risk of fire and heat), it can cause some swelling and bruising of the skin. As the skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand. This may result in small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises are usually painless, however, and disappear within a few days of treatment.
Also, there are several instances where cupping should not be performed. Patients with inflamed skin; cases of high fever or convulsions; and patients who bleed easily and are not suitable candidates 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.