Cupping is an ancient form of treatment which is still used today, not only in Chinese Medicine but also in many other traditional medicines and folk remedies in Asia, Middle east and Europe. The basic principle of cupping is to create a vacuum effect by removing air from a cup, or other similar recipient, and quickly placing it on the skin. This will create a suction which gently pulls the skin and muscle, and brings blood flow to the surface.
Many different “cups” can be used, from glass and bamboo, to the more modern plastic ones. In Chinese medicine glass cups are often used, the vacuum effect is created by quickly placing a flame inside the cup before placing it on the skin. The most common areas for cupping are the back and shoulders, but it also can be used on the abdomen or the legs. The cups are either left in place for about 20 mins, or with a bit of oil spread on the area before hand, they can be moved along the skin to create a effect similar to deep tissue massage.
In Chinese medicine, cupping is mainly used to move Qi and blood and to help any form of congestion or blockages. For example, when there is pain and stiffness in the muscles, cupping will help draw more blood flow to the area and deeply relaxes the muscles, which in turns will accelerate the natural healing process.
Cupping is also very useful at the early stages of a cold, it will not only warm up the surface of the skin but also activate the immune system by it’s action on the blood circulation. It is said that colds and flu, or the pathogenic factors responsible for them, first attack and enter the body on the surface area or the skin. With cupping the pathogenic factors are “drawn” out before they can progress to deeper layers of the body and reach the organs such as the lungs.
There are many other conditions that can benefit from cupping, but more importantly it’s a wonderful and deeply relaxing treatment that everyone should experience!
There is only one side effect of cupping which is the circular marks on the skin left where the cups have been placed. These are painless and although quite visible at first, they usually subside after a couple of days. In some cases, cupping is contra-indicated. A thorough consultation will help us determine if you are a good candidate for cupping or if it should be avoided.
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