Cupping

 

What is cupping?

Cupping is a type of alternative therapy that originated in China. It involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. The suction may facilitate healing with blood flow.

Proponents also claim the suction helps facilitate the flow of “qi” in the body. Qi is a Chinese word meaning life force.

Cupping helps balance yin and yang, or the negative and positive, within the body. Restoring balance between these two extremes is thought to help with the body’s resistance to pathogens as well as its ability to increase blood flow and reduce pain.

Cupping increases blood circulation to the area where the cups are placed. This may relieve muscle tension, which can improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair. It may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the tissue.

People use cupping to complement their care for a host of issues and conditions.

What should I expect during a cupping treatment?

During a cupping treatment, a cup is placed on the skin and then heated or suctioned onto the skin. The cup is heated with fire using alcohol, that’s placed directly into the cup. The fire source is removed, and the heated cup is placed with the open side directly on your skin.

When the hot cup is placed on your skin, the air inside the cup cools and creates a vacuum that draws the skin and muscle upward into the cup. Your skin may turn red as the blood vessels respond to the change in pressure.

Cupping is sometimes performed along with acupuncture treatments. For best results, you may also want to fast or eat only light meals for two to three hours before your cupping session.

What conditions can cupping treat?

Cupping has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions. It may be particularly effective at easing conditions that create muscle aches and pains.

Since the cups can also be applied to major acupressure points, the practice is possibly effective at treating pain, digestive issues, skin issues, and other conditions commonly treated with acupressure.

 Cupping therapy may help with the following conditions, among others:

Side effects

There aren’t many side effects associated with cupping. The side effects you may experience will typically occur during your treatment or immediately after.

You may feel lightheaded or dizzy during your treatment. You may also experience sweating or nausea.

After treatment, the skin around the rim of the cup may become irritated and marked in a circular pattern.

Other risks include:​

Things to keep in mind

Cupping therapy isn’t recommended for everyone. Extra caution should be taken for the following groups:

  • Children. Children under 4 years old shouldn’t receive cupping therapy. Older children should only be treated for very short periods.

  • Seniors. Our skin becomes more fragile as we age. Any medication you may be taking might have an effect as well.

  • Pregnant people. Avoid cupping the abdomen and lower back.

  • Those who are currently menstruating.

Don’t use cupping if you use blood-thinning medication. Also avoid cupping if you have:

  • a sunburn

  • a wound

  • a skin ulcer

  • experienced recent trauma

  • an internal organ disorder