What is cupping therapy?
Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine where a therapist places special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. It was developed thousands of years ago and though the techniques have modernized, the original philosophy remains the same.
People may seek cupping therapy for many reasons, perhaps to assist with pain relief and management, inflammation relief, relaxation, and as a type of deep-tissue massage.
How does cupping therapy work?
Using cups typically made out of glass, bamboo, plastic jars, silicone, or earthenware, cupping therapy creates a vacuum by suctioning out the air, where the underlying tissue is raised within the vacuum inside the cup.
From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, the purpose of cupping is to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove “heat”, and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.
Typically, patients will feel a tight but painless sensation in the area of the cup. Depending on your comfort and your practitioner’s assessment of the problem, cups may be moved around or left in place. Each treatment is tailored.
One very common area to be cupped is the back, although cups work well on other fleshy sections of the body too.
This technique causes the skin to temporarily turn red, blue or purple for anywhere between a few days to a couple of weeks. Once the colouration has dissipated, the procedure can be repeated until the condition or ailment is resolved.
Cupping is often combined with acupuncture into one treatment as well.
Cupping therapy methods
- Flash-fire cupping - a cupping procedure which involves flashing the fire of a piece of ignited alcohol-cotton once around the cup’s interior and pressing the cup onto the treated area immediately after removing the ignited cotton.
- Slide cupping - a cupping method in which the cup or jar is moved on the skin surface to extend the acting area.
- Medicated cupping - a form of cupping therapy in which the cup or jar is put into boiling medicinal solution before use.
- Pricking/Bloodletting cupping - a combined method of pricking and cupping in which pricking with a three-edged needle is followed by cupping to increase bloodletting.