Cupping Therapy is receiving lots of publicity with many top athletes and celebrities using it. Relatively unknown to most people living in the West until recently, cupping therapy is a part of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some records show that variations of cupping practices might actually be much older, possibly dating as far back as 3000 B.C.
And for good reason. Cupping therapy has a host of health benefits that can often outweigh modern medicine techniques.
One of the biggest advantages of cupping therapy, is that it doesn’t pose the risk for unwanted side effects unlike pharmacological drugs or surgery do.
In fact, there’s really no downside to trying cupping, since studies show it can help boost the immune system and speed up healing time without the use of any medications or even herbs. And these are just some of the benefits of cupping therapy.
Benefits of Cupping Therapy
Cupping techniques have been used extensively to treat a range of disorders and symptoms sometimes on their own, or other times in conjunction with other TCM practices such as acupuncture and therapeutic massage (Tuina). What we do know is that cupping works by expanding the blood vessels and increasing the amount of fluid entering and leaving tissues. Besides this, cupping therapy seems to provoke a relaxation response in some people, which means it’s useful for lowering stress and its negative effects.
Helps Reduce Pain
One of the most common uses for Cupping Therapy is to naturally reduce joint and muscle pain. Cupping releases tissues deep inside the body, relaxes tense muscles and eases stiffness associated with chronic back and neck pains, migraines, rheumatism, and fatigue. Some athletes and martial artists have been known to use cupping therapy to naturally improve performance and reduce stiffness, muscle cramps, joint pains and scar tissue caused by injuries.
Cupping targets soft tissue by applying local pressure to pain points and areas of swelling. As blood flow increases within vessels and capillaries, tissues receive much-needed nutrients and oxygen.
It might seem counteractive, but cupping often helps alleviate physical complaints and allows people to enter a more relaxed state since it sedates the central nervous system. This is similar to acupuncture.
Boosts Skin Health
Cupping is used to treat certain skin conditions like cellulite, acne and skin inflammation. While studies haven’t shown it can necessarily help with weight loss, the fact that it tones and firms skin by improving blood flow and expanding capillaries makes it popular among celebrities and people in the spotlight who want to appear to have toned skin. As part of a skin-clearing or cellulite treatment, oil is commonly first applied to the skin before the cups are suctioned and moved around.
Helps Treat Respiratory Conditions and Colds
Commonly used to help nourish the lungs and clear away phlegm or congestion, cupping therapy can be useful for speeding up healing time from respiratory illnesses like the flu and common cold. Cupping helps improve immune function by moving blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body, which is why it’s been associated with reductions in lung diseases (especially chronic coughs), allergies, infections and asthma. In fact, if cupping therapy is done at the onset of a cold or flu, it may completely cure the situation.
Treating respiratory conditions like pulmonary tuberculosis is one of the oldest uses for cupping and was utilized long before prescriptions were available.
Acupuncture and cupping are both popular ways to improve digestion and reduce symptoms from disorders like irritable bowel syndrome. This might primarily be because they can lower a patient’s stress response, which is highly tied to healthy digestive functioning.
Cupping therapy has been found to be beneficial for people with frequent stomach pains, diarrhea, acute gastritis, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal diseases and water retention. For digestive disturbances, cupping is commonly performed in the following areas: around the navel, over the bladder, around the kidneys or over the stomach.
What Is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping can remove toxins from the body, which in turn improves immunity.
Cupping therapy can treat a variety of conditions safely, including:
- Respiratory infections
- Blood disorders, such as anaemia
- Joint pain caused by arthritis and fibromyalgia
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Muscle aches and stiffness
- Fertility and gynecological disorders
- Skin problems such as herpes, eczema, urticaria and acne
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Mental disorders, anxiety and depression
- Food allergies and asthma
- Varicose veins and cellulite
How Cupping Therapy Works
Cupping therapy is used to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove heat and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.
Glass cups are applied to a patient’s back in a series of positions and a vacuum is applied which sucks the surrounding skin into the cup. This promotes the blood flow to the areas of skin and deep tissue within the area. This is beneficial for dulling pain, breaking up deep scar tissue, and relaxing tender muscles or connective tissue. In this way, cupping is almost like the opposite of getting a massage since instead of applying pressure to swollen areas, it draws pressure out. For this reason cupping is often done in patients who experience chronic lower back pain, muscle knots, tightness due to anxiety, swelling or stiffness.
The cups are left in place for 5 to 15 minutes.
Moving cupping is similar but involves applying massage oil to the skin first, which helps the heated cups glide over tense areas on the patient’s back.
Back when cupping first originated, animal horns, clay pots, brass cups and bamboo were used to create the cups, but today cups are commonly made out of more durable materials, such as glass or heat-resistant plastic and rubber.
Traditionally, a piece of cotton wool is burned in the cup which uses up all the air in the cup. The cup is quickly applied to the area of skin. The lack of air in the cup creates a vacuum which holds the cup in place. I use a vacuum pump to remove the air and create the vacuum. This means that there is no heat on the glass which can burn the skin. Also the gauge on the device means that I can apply an exact pressure.
Is Cupping Therapy Safe?
Cupping might sound a bit scary to someone who’s new to the practice, but rest assured that cupping isn’t usually painful and most trained practitioners are very careful to use sterile equipment. During a cupping session, it’s common to feel some heat and tightness around the cup, but many people find this to actually be relaxing and soothing.
Cupping is considered a safe practice, While the different cupping techniques seem to be similar in terms of effectiveness.
Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for skin discoloration to develop after cupping, which can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. For people with bleeding disorders or who are prone to bruising, cupping should be avoided. It can cause minor and temporary bruising in some people, but this can become problematic for those who don’t heal well from bruises.
For more information about cupping therapy, or to book an appointment,
Contact David Hankey Acupuncture Cork.
Phone: 087 2744 737