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Cupping Therapy

What is cupping?

Cupping is a type of alternative therapy that originated in China. It involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. The suction may facilitate healing with blood flow.

Proponents also claim the suction helps facilitate the flow of “qi” in the body. Qi is a Chinese word meaning life force. A famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong, reportedly first practiced cupping. He lived from A.D. 281 to 341.

Many Taoists believe that cupping helps balance yin and yang, or the negative and positive, within the body. Restoring balance between these two extremes is thought to help with the body’s resistance to pathogens as well as its ability to increase blood flow and reduce pain.

Cupping increases blood circulation to the area where the cups are placed. This may relieve muscle tension, which can improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair. It may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the tissue.

People use cupping to complement their care for a host of issues and conditions.

What conditions can cupping treat?

Cupping has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions. It may be particularly effective at easing conditions that create muscle aches and pains.

Since the cups can also be applied to major acupressure points, the practice is possibly effective at treating digestive issues, skin issues, and other conditions commonly treated with acupressure.

The researchers found that cupping therapy may help with the following conditions, among others:

  • shingles
  • facial paralysis
  • cough and dyspnea
  • acne
  • lumbar disc herniation
  • cervical spondylosis
Preparing for your cupping appointment

Cupping is a long-practiced treatment that may help ease the symptoms of both temporary and chronic health conditions.

As with many alternative therapies, keep in mind that there haven’t been extensive studies performed without bias to fully assess its true effectiveness.

If you choose to try cupping, consider using it as a complement to your current doctor visits, not a substitute.

Here are some things to consider before beginning cupping therapy:

  • What conditions does the cupping practitioner specialize in treating?
  • What method of cupping does the practitioner use?
  • Is the facility clean? Does the practitioner implement safety measurements?
  • Does the practitioner have any certifications?
  • Do you have a condition that may benefit from cupping?

the process, which is similar to leech therapy, starts off with a dry cupping session. between 2-30 cups and pumps (or heat suction) are placed on specific meridian points on the patient’s back. A mild suction is created using a cup and a pump (or heat suction) on selected areas and left for a few minutes to create a local anaesthesia effect.

The cups are then removed and superficial skin incisions are made with a small cupping scalpel. The therapist then places five to eight cups on the patient’s back and performs a second suction for a few minutes, to draw out around 500 millilitres of blood.

“When this happens, the termination of sensory nerve in the epidermis will send a message to the brain that the body is under attack and is losing blood,” Dr Alhammoury explains.  

“The brain responds by releasing plenty of endorphins in your body. It will also send signals that work to give you new red blood cells. These cells are like the bus carrying oxygen from the lungs to other cells all over the body. After blood-letting, it will carry the oxygen in a more efficient way.”

Cuts should heal after three days and there should be no scarring.

For 4-6 hours post cupping, avoid exposure to:
  1. Caffeine, alcohol, sugary foods and drinks, dairy, and processed meats. These foods slow down your body’s ability to process the treatment.
  2. Hot showers, saunas, hot tubs and strong air conditioning. …
  3. Intense exercise.
  4. Cold and windy conditions.

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