Used in combination with acupuncture or alone, cupping is a lesser known treatment practice in Chinese Medicine. One of the earliest documentations can be found in a 300AD text by the Great Taoist Herbalist Ge Hong. Cupping is not exclusive to Chinese Medicine. Similar treatments are used in the medicinal practices of Egyptian, North American Indigenous, early Greek, and other Asian and European countries.
Cupping is applied to certain acupuncture points, channels as well as regions or the body that are affected by pain. It’s a practice in which a cup is placed on the skin with negative pressure by using heat to create a vacuum, so that the skin and superficial muscle layer is drawn into and held by the cup. This suction can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow and calm the nervous system. It’s widely believed that the increased blood flow results in a mild immune response and release of the fascia which eases muscle pain and promotes circulation. It is typical for skin discoloration to form that may appear similar to a bruise which will fade within a few hours or at most a few days and does not cause pain or discomfort. For most patients this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about 10 minutes while the patient relaxes.
Why try Cupping?
1) Its relaxing.
Cupping along the spine stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system to produce a relaxing and sedating effect on the recipient (it is not uncommon for them to fall asleep!). Toxic feelings of anxiety and stress are lifted up and away.
2) It reduces pain.
Several new studies have shown it helps relieve back, neck, carpal tunnel and knee pain.
3) Fast results.
Much like the inverse of massage – rather than applying pressure to the muscles, it gently uses pressure to pull them upward. It’s said that 5 minutes of cupping is equivalent to 30 minutes of a deep tissue massage. Cupping can achieve immediate results, bringing a pain scale of nine down to around a one or two in a matter of minutes.
Relief for many health conditions
Cupping has numerous benefits – it can help remove toxins from the body and stimulate the flow of fresh blood, lymph, and Qi to the affected area and throughout the body. It often works wonders for patients with the flu, colds, coughs, back and muscle pain, poor circulation, anxiety, red itchy skin conditions (though cups are not applied to inflamed areas), allergies, fevers, aches and myriad of other pains.
Athletes use cupping for optimum performance.
Tennis star Andy Murray said he uses cupping along with other treatments to alleviate stiffness and address a back injury. Many major league ball players such as the New York Mets’ Daisuke Matsuzaka have appeared with cupping marks in the locker room. He was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying “As an athlete, I want to play as long as possible, in order to do that; I need to find ways to protect my body”.