Cupping therapy is an adjunct technique used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cups are placed on the skin using a suction method that’s safe and non-invasive, which helps to influence the flow of energy and blood in the body. The cups can be made from either glass, bamboo or plastic.
The use of cupping is to aid the removal of toxins and blockages from the body, increase blood and circulation to that area, reduce inflammation, ease obstruction and pain. It is usually applied to the back area, shoulders and thighs.
Cupping dates back to the ancient Chinese, Egyptian and even Middle Eastern times. The oldest record of cupping dates back to around 1550BC in Egypt.
Cupping is usually used together with massage and acupuncture.
With cupping, usually a flammable substance such as alcohol is used to place inside the cup to remove the oxygen, as the fire goes in the cup, it is then placed upside down onto the patient’s skin, the fire is able to create a vacuum to cause the skin to raise up as the blood circulation to that area increases and blood vessels expand to cause redness.
The cups are left on the skin for around 5-10 minutes. They are either stationary cups, which are left in place, or the practitioner may slide or glide the cups over the area. After cupping, there may be bruising on the surface of the skin which eventually subsides but can last up to several days. These purple/red cupping marks are an indication of toxins and cold-damp that was accumulated under the skin’s surface that are now being removed.
Side Effects of Cupping Therapy
Cupping is very safe when done by a trained professional. Some side effects include:
- Mild discomfort and tightness
- Bruises (from the cups)
- Skin infection
However cupping is contraindicated on pregnant women, cancer patients, broken bones, and over any ulcers or deep veins.