Cupping is one of the older methods of traditional Chinese medicine. Recorded use of cupping dates back to the early fourth century, when the noted herbalist Ge Hong wrote about a form of cupping in A Handbook of Prescriptions. Cupping was known as the therapy that could alleviate headaches, dizziness, and even abdominal pain.
Cupping, involves placing glass cups on your body on either an affected area or the acupuncture points used to treat it to create suction. As odd as it may seem, cupping was documented in reducing chronic neck pain by an average of 45% among people in a study from the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany conducted in 2011.
How does cupping work? What does cupping treat?
In a typical cupping session, glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol and then placed inside the cup. Burning a substance inside the cup removes all the oxygen, which creates a vacuum.
As the substance burns, the cup is turned upside-down so that the practitioner can place the cup over a specific area. The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood. The suction caused by cupping is meant to free up and balance the flow of qi (pronounced CHEE), or life energy, in the body. Cupping breaks up obstructions, and creates an outlet for toxins to be drawn out of the body.
In accordance with condition which will being treated, the cups will be left in place for 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Practitioners of cupping sometimes will apply small amounts of medicated or herbal oils to the skin before the cupping procedure. By doing so, they easily move the cups up and down particular accupoints or meridians after they have been applied.
Types of cupping
The traditional form of cupping was described above. There are other forms of cupping, also known as “wet” or “air” cupping.
In “air” cupping, instead of using a flame to heat the cup, the cup is applied to the skin, and a suction pump is attached to the rounded end of the jar. The pump is then used to create the vacuum. In “wet” cupping, the skin is punctured before treatment. When the cup is applied and the skin is drawn up, a small amount of blood may flow from the puncture site, which are believed to help remove harmful substances and toxins from the body.
Prior to considering any alternative health modality, discuss with your primary health care provider. The cupping method should only be performed by licensed practitioners. When performed correctly, cupping will result in marking (non permanent) and bruises.
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