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What is cupping therapy and what are the benefits?

December 2, 2017

 

Cupping therapy is an ancient method of treatment that dates to Chinese, Indian, Egyptian and Middle Eastern medicine. Hippocrates himself recommended it as a line of treatment, and nowadays celebrities and athletes resort to cupping for relaxation, muscle and joint pain relief, and overall detoxification and anti-inflammation. The upside to treatments like cupping, massage therapy and acupuncture, particularly in combination with one another, is that there are seldom side effects or negative impressions upon the individual’s body. One can experiment and ultimately benefit from these treatments on a holistic level. Cupping has so far been clinically proven to relieve arthritic and low back pains, common flus and colds, anemia and blood-disease, and is used in the place of analgesics. Users of cupping have also reported positive effects of cupping on depression, anxiety and stress management, but trials upon this and other benefits have yet to be done.

 

HOW IT WORKS

Devices used for cupping can be manually with a glass cup and a flame to generate a vacuum, or with a plastic vacuum pump and plastic cups. There are two types of cupping – dry cupping, where the cup is applied directly to the skin and left for about 3 minutes, and wet cupping, where a nick is made under the skin and a small layer of clotted blood pools in the cup. Therapists may leave the cups stationary in dry cupping, or they may move them around, depending on the condition. The vacuum of the cup works in reverse massage, lifting the skin and underlying fascia underneath off the muscle fibers, which explains the excellent effect it has on muscle spasms and cramps. Cupping works upon specific energy points, much like acupuncture, so for every condition you wish to treat, there are a handful of points to touch upon for the optimal result. However, the complete physiology behind cupping has yet to be understood, but overall it is known for promoting good circulation, detoxification, anti-inflammation and excellent immunity and lymphatic cleansing.

 

THE EXPERIENCE

The area is first sterilized and cleansed, and so are the cups to be used. The most common area for cupping is the back, and the spinal vertebrae C7-T1, or the area below the sharp, bony prominence at the back of your neck, is considered the most important of them, along with two points situated below the scapulae, or shoulder-blades. These focal points are said to be a systemic point, particularly in Middle Eastern cupping tradition. Typically, an array of cups will be placed across the back (again, depending on the condition) and the sensation is that of mild discomfort, bruising and a slight burn. Some therapists would moisturize the skin for dry cupping massage across various points of the body. In wet cupping, one would have to sustain a small stinging sensation from the scalpel or razor nicking the skin. Cupping is often used in junction with acupuncture and massage, so going to an experienced professional for a full session will provide the best results possible. Some forms of cupping, such as needle cupping, combine acupuncture needles and cups together upon the same energy point. The skin heals up in about 5-6 days with dry cupping, and about 10 days with wet cupping, and for those who regularly commit to cupping, they may have mild scarring.

 

THE CONCLUSION

Cupping therapy is definitely a must-try on the bucket list for every fitness guru and lifestyle coach out there, but that doesn’t mean the average Joe shouldn’t give it a try. The results are almost always positive, relaxing and can even kick that nasty, stubborn cold in the butt. There’s nothing to lose.

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