One of traditional Chinese medicine’s most ancient healing methods is Cupping Therapy. The use of this healing technique was first recorded when the renowned herbalist Ge Hong wrote in his book, A Handbook of Prescriptions, about a type of cupping in the early fourth century. Books later written during the Tang and Ch’ing dynasties depicted cupping in great detail; a whole chapter of a form of cupping called “fire jar qi,” which was able to relieve stomach pain, dizziness, and headaches was mentioned in one textbook.
Ancient practitioners first utilize animal horns that have been hollowed-out for cups, and put them over specific energy channels (meridians) and/or points. These days, thick plastic or glass cups are used by most acupuncturists in Bellmore, while in other countries, pottery, iron, and bamboo are still used. The preferred manner of delivery by far, are glass cups due to the fact that they do not break easily or deteriorate unlike pottery or bamboo, and they enable the acupuncturist to see the skin and assess the results of the treatment.
Cupping- How does it work? What conditions does it treat?
In a customary cupping procedure, the practitioner soaks up a cotton ball with alcohol, lights up the ball and then places the flaming ball inside the cup. The fire eats up all the oxygen in the cup creating a vacuum inside the cup.
As the fire burns, the cup is quickly placed upside down on the patient’s body. The vacuum in the cup causes a suction effect on the skin and draws the skin upward onto the cup as the air cools within the cup. The skin being pulled into the cup is believed to dilate the pores of the skin. This stimulates blood flow, eliminates blockages, realigns and balances the circulation of qi, and creates a path for toxins to be filtered out of the body.
The cups remain on the patient’s skin for five to ten minutes based on the problem being addressed. Numerous cups may be used all at once on a single treatment. There are practitioners who will apply small amounts of herbal oils or medicated oils on the skin prior to placing the cups on the body. This helps move the cups easily up and down on specific meridians or acupoints.
Cupping therapy performed in China is mainly used to address respiratory problems like congestion, asthma, and bronchitis; certain types of pain; and gastrointestinal conditions. Some practitioners are good at using cupping to decrease swelling and treat depression. The body’s fleshy areas, including the abdomen and back (and, to a lesser extent, the legs and arms), are frequent used areas of treatment.
Are there different types of cupping?
Aside from “dry” cupping”, which is the conventional type of cupping depicted above, there are practitioners who also use “air cupping” and “wet cupping”.
Rather than using fire to heat the cup, the cup is placed to the skin, and a vacuum pump is connected to the side or end of the cup. The pump sucks out the air inside the cup creating a vacuum.
In this procedure, before the cups are applied on the body, the skin is first punctured. When the cups are applied and the skin is drawn to the cup, a tiny amount of blood may come out of the puncture site. This is deemed to remove toxins and harmful substances out of the body.
Does cupping therapy hurt? Is it safe?
In a cupping therapy procedure, the drawing of the skin to the cup cases the blood vessels at the skin surface to expand. This can lead to round small bruises on the site of treatment. However, the bruises are usually not painful and vanish a few days after treatment.
Cupping is deemed to be a safe form of treatment for most people, (especially air cupping as it does not involve the use of heat or fire). However, it can result in bruising and swelling on the skin
Moreover, there may be a number of occasions in which cupping should not be administered. During a cupping procedure, the cup should not cross bony areas, such as the shoulder blades or the ridges of the spine if the cups are being moved; pregnant women should not have cupping on their lower back or stomach; cupping should not be given to patients who easily bleed, patients who suffer from convulsions and high fever, and patients with inflamed skin.