Cupping is a form of Traditional Eastern Medicine therapy where inverted glass, plastic, or bamboo cups are applied to the acupuncture points on the body.
This technique has been used for thousands of years and one of the earliest documentations of cupping can be found in the work titled A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies, which was written by a Taoist herbalist Ge Hong all the way back in 300 AD.
Currently, cupping therapy is a well-recognized traditional method used for health promotion, prophylaxis, and treatment for a variety of illnesses.
Cupping is suitable for most patients except those who are physically weak and have certain conditions such as:
- Inflamed or sensitive skin
- High fever or convulsions
- Bleed easily (on blood thinners such as warfarin)
- Pregnant women (stomach, lower back, and specific points must be avoided)
Seen purplish circles on athletes before? Yes, you may get some of those too. But fret not! It is common for cupping to leave distinctive small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied and it is usually painless.
These cupping marks are discoloration of the skin due to broken blood vessels just beneath the skin, much like a bruise. This indicates the level of blood and Qi stagnation, toxin accumulation, or dampness accumulation in your body. The color and pattern of the marks reflect the level of stagnation in that area. The darker the color, the more stagnation present.
What Are the Benefits?
“Where there’s stagnation, there will be a pain.
Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.”
This old TCM philosophy holds that pain results from the blockage of Qi, blood, or energy. Cupping is therefore a method of clearing this blockage to restore the body’s natural flow of energy and thus alleviating the pain.
Recent researches show that cupping therapy helps to:
- Decrease muscle activity which results in pain reduction
- Help with muscle relaxation by improving microcirculation, promoting cell repair and angiogenesis in tissues
- Promote healing process via increased local tissue metabolism
- Activate the lymphatic system to drain excess fluids and toxins
- Induce comfort and relaxation on a systemic level
- Good for musculoskeletal pain: Chronic lower back pain, neck pain and fibromyalgia
- Good for digestive problems: Bloating, gastric reflux and constipation conditions
- Good for improving recovery: Cough, asthma and common cold
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