Cupping: Traditional Chinese Therapy
What exactly is Cupping?
Cupping is an ancient Chinese method, like acupuncture, that aims to stimulate the acupoints or meridians by creating a partial vacuum – by heating or suction – in cups that are placed on the skin. Cupping is the opposite of massage – rather than applying pressure to the muscles, cupping uses gentle pressure to pull them upwards. It has been described as a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation.
The cupping therapy is a part of numerous ancient healing systems, such as Chinese, Unani, traditional Korean, Tibetan, and Oriental medicine. The oldest medical text mentioning the cupping therapy was found in the Eber’s papyrus (1550 BC) from Ancient Egypt. This form of therapy was also popularly studied by the Greek physician Hippocrates extensively. Some other cultures which popularly used the cupping therapy as a form of treatment were the Arabic and the Islamic countries. Between the 14th and the 17th centuries, cupping therapy spread fast across Italy and the rest of Europe where it was popularly used as treatment for gout and arthritis.
How does Cupping work?
A cup is heated or suctioned with the help of fire using alcohol, paper, or herbs and directly placed on the skin, after removing the fire source. The air inside the hot cup starts to cool down creating a vacuum that draws the skin and muscle upward into the cup. Redness of the skin in the area is common as the blood vessels respond to the change in pressure. The placement of the cups is aligned to the 5 meridians present in the back. By targeting the meridian channels, cupping helps to open up these channels and help the energy flow through the body be smooth and free-flowing.
The mechanism of action of the cupping therapy is still unclear, however, many propose that the suction of the pressure points promotes peripheral blood circulation, and improves immunity. Some theorists also suggest that cupping and acupuncture both have the same mechanism of action and work on the immun0-modulation theory. Based on this theory, skin stimulation could transform into biological signals and activate the neuroendocrine immune system.
Conditions that can be Treated by Cupping
Particularly effective in easing conditions of muscle ache and pain, cupping therapy has also found to be helpful in treating conditions like:
- Facial paralysis.
- Cough and dyspnea.
- Lumbar disc herniation.
- Cervical spondylosis.
Benefits of Cupping
Cupping therapy has been used for health promotion, preventive, and therapeutic purposes. The sites are selected based on the type of ailment you are suffering from. The most common site of application ranges from the chest, abdomen, buttocks, and legs in this order. Other areas, such as the face, may also be used for the therapy.
Some of the benefits of Cupping are:
- Helps relieve chronic pain.
- Helps restore the disturbed functions of the internal organs like the heart, stomach, spleen, etc.
- Helps detoxify the body and refine blood.
- Stimulates blood flow through the body.
- Balances and realigns the free-flowing energy life force (Qi).
Risks associated with Cupping
There may be a few side effects associated with the Cupping therapy that one may experience either during or immediately after undergoing treatment. Some of these side-effects are:
- Feeling lightheaded or dizzy.
- Sweating or nausea.
- Irritation or marking of the skin where the cup was placed.
- Scarring or bruising of the skin.
Going to a professional Cupping therapist ensures maintenance of hygiene during and after a session to avoid passing on of infections, proper guidance regarding how and when to undergo the cupping session, and knowledge regarding the meridian points and which points need to be targeted for your condition.
End note from WG Team
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