Traditional Chinese medicine includes many therapies with perhaps acupuncture being the most commonly recognized. What is a lesser-known Traditional Chinese Therapy that is used for many health conditions is cupping.
What is Cupping?
Cupping is a special technique that uses small glass or bamboo cups as suction devices that are placed on the skin. A qualified practitioner creates the suction in different ways. One technique involves applying rubbing alcohol onto the bottom of the cup, then heating it up and immediately placing the open end of the cup against the skin.
Suction can also be created by placing an inverted cup over a small flame, or by using an alcohol-soaked cotton pad over an insulating material (like leather) to protect the skin, then lighting the pad and placing an empty cup over the flame to extinguish it.
Flames are never used near the skin and are not lit throughout the process of cupping, but rather are a means to create the heat that causes the suction within the small cups.
Once the suction is happening, the cups are gently glided across the skin. The suction in the cups pulls skin and the upper muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping basically is the opposite of massaging; instead of pressure being placed downward into the body, cupping gently applies pressure upwards.
Many patients find this procedure particularly relaxing and it provides a ‘relief` sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes.
Cupping shares similarities with the practice of Tui Na. Tui Na is a traditional Chinese massage technique that focuses on acupuncture points and areas in which pain is felt providing relief through pressure.
People choose this treatment for many ailments including: pain management, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation, and as a type of deep-tissue massage. Cupping has been used by many athletes including Olympians Michael Phelps and Alex Naddour to help increase blood circulation.
History of Cupping
Cupping is generally a lesser-known treatment that is an integral part of Oriental Natural Medicine providing a pleasant feeling for the patient.
One of the earliest documentations (281 AD) of cupping was written by Taoist Ge Hong. He was not only a practising Taoist; Ge Hong was an alchemist and a medicinal herbalist. He was well-recognized in those times as an accomplished healer and was trusted by high officials in ancient China. Cups did not exist in those times to perform cupping so animal horns were used. Some medical tracts of that era refer to cupping as the horn technique of healing.
During the Tang Dynasty (617-907 AD), cupping was the main form of treatment for pulmonary tuberculosis. It was often used in conjunction with acupuncture and moxibustion.
Other ancient healers in Arabia and the Indian sub-continent also used cupping as a healing method but these practices were not recorded until much later.
Is Cupping Going to Help You?
First and foremost if you are unsure if cupping is for you and you have questions then call a qualified professional.
Most patients say they feel a tight sensation in the cup area but state that it is soothing. Depending on the practitioner’s assessment and your comfort level, the cups may be moved around or they may be left in one position. Every treatment is unique as no two patients are the same.
In addition to the benefits mentioned earlier, cupping can help to remove toxins and stimulate the flow of fresh blood to affected areas. Many patients claim that is helps with coughs, colds, flu, anxiety, allergies, and many more ailments.
If you are an individual who bleeds easy, has skin ulcers, or edema then this is not for you. It is highly advised that pregnant women do not have this treatment.
For more information on cupping feel free to call our office during regular business hours and one of our associates will be please to speak with you. Established in 2007 by Dr. Behfar Sanjari, Chiro-Med Rehab Centre has been committed to providing quality health care services to the Greater Toronto Area for over half a decade. We have clinics located in Richmond Hill and Newmarket, visit Chiro-Med online or call 905-918-0419 or 905-235-2620 for more information.