The 2016 Rio Olympics have really put a spotlight on one of my favorite TCM techniques: cupping. Michael Phelps has definitely played a big role in this exposure. I’ve noticed countless articles and news appearances popping up on just about every outlet and forum around. So let’s talk briefly about what cupping is all about.
Cupping involves creating a suction on the body with glass, silicone or plastic cups. Traditionally, cupping is done with glass (or bamboo) cups and fire is used to create the suction. In more modern times, silicone and plastic cups have have been introduced allowing the suction to be created without fire. Most plastic cups come with a pump that draws the air out of the cup creating the vacuum. I have used all of these types of cups and there are benefits to each. However, I personally love fire cupping and tend to use glass cups a vast majority of the time. In addition to the fun of playing with fire, glass cups can also be moved about the body once placed and are easy to clean and thoroughly sterilize. With moving cupping, some type of lubricant (such as massage oil) is placed on the skin prior to the placement of the cup. This allows the cup to glide along the skin and reach larger areas of the body while increasing stimulation by moving blood and interstitial fluid.
Bleeding cupping can also be done with glass cups. In this style of cupping the skin is broken with a sterile lancet or acupuncture needle and a cup is placed over this area. The vacuum created by the cup draws the blood out. This type of cupping is usually used for acute sprains in which the blood has become stagnated in the area.
Cupping can be a great addition (or even alternative) to acupuncture needles and can be used for a myriad of thing such as musculoskeletal pain and injury, gastrointestinal disorders (such a stomachache, vomiting or diarrhea), colds, coughs, asthma, and acute sprains and strains. The action of the vacuumed cup creates increased blood flow to the area in order to promote healing and remove pain. This is done by drawing the toxins from deep within the body up and out through the skin.
Most people love cupping as it can be feel similar to a deep tissue massage. The marks that are left on the body range in color from dark purple to red and usually fade in a few days.
As with most any form of medicine, cupping does have some precautions and contraindications. For these reason it is important to make sure that when you receive cupping it is from someone who has proper training and expertise in the area. If you have any other questions, or want to book an appointment and see if cupping might be beneficial for you, please get in touch. (firstname.lastname@example.org)