Cupping is a therapy used in traditional Chinese medicine. It aims to restore proper blood flow throughout the body. Energy, or qi, flows through the blood. Fixing the flow of energy is thought to get rid of stagnation or blockages in different places of the body.
During cupping therapy, the therapist places cups on specific parts of your body. The cups stay there for several minutes, where they create suction.
The cups may be made of glass, bamboo, stoneware, or silicone. They act as a type of deep tissue massage when the suction is broken.
The vacuum created by the cups loosens your connective tissues. This increases blood flow and boosts oxygen and lymph levels in the tissues. Your lymphatic system removes toxins, such as cells that died or metabolic waste products. After a session, the cups are cleaned and stored in a special carrying case.
There is not a lot of scientific evidence about cupping, but many people find that it helps with pain relief. Repetitive motions often cause inflammation. Poor posture puts undue stress on soft tissues and joints. Many people find the process relaxing, so they have cupping for stress relief.
If you have scar tissue from a past injury or surgery, cupping helps break the adhesions and thick areas. There are not many side effects of cupping. It can be done along with other complementary and alternative medicine, other forms of massage, chiropractic care, and physical therapy. The most common side effects of cupping are bruises and mild discomfort.
After you go to a cupping therapy session, there are several aftercare things you need to do:
- The number one thing to do for yourself is to stay hydrated. You will need extra water in order to help your lymphatic system flush the toxins out of your body.
- Avoid consuming any alcohol, which causes dehydration and promotes inflammation.
- Cover the area of your body that was treated. Keep it warm, but do not apply heat. A wool blanket or herbal heating pad will help.
- Avoid showering right after a cupping session. It is better to wait for at least 12 hours before you take a shower.
- Many people feel tired after cupping. This is because your body is working to remove toxins. Rest or take a nap.
There are dry and wet types of cupping.
For the wet type, the therapist burns some herbs in the cup. Once the fire goes out, the therapist puts the cup on your body.
Next, the therapist uses a scalpel to make surface cuts in your skin. New suction is applied for another three to five minutes. After this, the cups are removed, and an antibiotic ointment is applied to the cuts.
With the dry method, the therapist uses a hand pump to create a vacuum between the cup and your skin.
There are a wide range of conditions that cupping has been used to treat:
- People seek cupping therapy for relief from herpes zoster (chickenpox and shingles) infections, acne, facial paralysis, and cervical spondylosis.
- Cupping can also ease symptoms related to blood disorders such as anemia and hemophilia.
- Some people have found cupping to help them with rheumatic diseases, such as autoimmune arthritis and fibromyalgia.
- Some women report that cupping helped with their fertility and gynecological disorders.
- Other disorders like eczema, high blood pressure, migraines, anxiety, depression, allergies, asthma, and varicose veins have all shown improvement after regular cupping sessions.