Cupping Therapy—What Is It and Is It Good For You?

September 11, 2019

Cupping Therapy—What Is It and Is It Good For You?

What is Cupping?

Cupping is an ancient art and science of eliminating diseases through the placement of specially heated glass/metal cups on specific areas of the body. These cups create suction and vacuum to gently increase pressure on the points where they are placed. This gentle pressure eliminates illnesses that are caused due to poor blood circulation. Today, research has shown that, like massage therapy, cupping therapy can relieve many inflammatory conditions including chronic pain, injury, indigestion, sleep problems, anxiety, depression, acne, and wrinkles.

The History of Cupping

Remember the simple act of sucking your thumb when it was jammed in the door during childhood? Well, that is one type of cupping. In short: mankind has always been aware of cupping thanks to our natural instincts.

Ancient civilizations have believed that the root cause of all disease is the improper flow of energy (Chi) throughout the body. Cupping therapy was developed with the purpose of correcting these energy imbalances and promoting the proper circulation of blood. The history of cupping can be traced back to ancient Egypt; early records show that Egyptians used heated metal cups on their bodies to eliminate toxins and cure diseases. TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine also has records of similar practices of the use of suction to withdraw pain and toxins from the body. 

Types of Cupping

There are many different cupping styles and the methods used depend entirely on your therapist as well as the ailment you are looking to cure. Commonly used cupping methods include: wet cupping, air cupping, dry cupping, fire cupping and facial cupping. Cupping with oils is also popular today and is usually done using olive, almond or coconut oils.

Benefits of Cupping

Cupping for Pain Reduction

During the 2016 Olympic Games, Michael Phelps came out of the swimming pool with circular marks on his body; it literally appeared as if he had been attacked by an octopus! In reality, he had had a cupping session the day before. Cupping stimulates the flow of Chi and realigns it, breaks obstructions and creates an avenue for the removal of toxins. This ancient form of massage therapy eliminates pain and promotes deep relaxation thanks to the low pressure or pull effect on the muscles and joints. Cupping expands the blood vessels in the muscles which results in improved blood circulation. Many arthritic sufferers are also known to have benefitted from cupping therapy. The cups placed on the joints aid in better flow of blood and synovial fluid which eliminates stiffness, inflammation and pain.

Cupping for Improved Digestion

There is a reason why clients who have had a cupping session feel hungry afterwards. According to TCM practitioners, the body derives its energy from the digestive organs like the spleen, stomach, etc. When cups are placed on these organs, the low pressure created by them stimulates them, as well as the peristaltic movement and the movement of digestive fluids. This is the main reason why cupping can aid in treating chronic gastroenteritis disorders, constipation, and the like.

Cupping for Improved Skin 

Cupping is beneficial for the skin and hair. The therapy stimulates the roots of the hair and expands the blood vessels beneath the dermal surface to improve blood circulation. The gentle heat also throws out toxins from the skin’s pores to reduce and prevent acne. Cupping gently increases both the temperature and pressure in the area to improve the functioning of sweat glands and sebaceous glands. In the past, therapists used cupping to draw out poison from the victims of snake bites. The same principle works today: regular cupping sessions accelerate the removal of sweat, toxic waste, dried sebum and sebaceous matter. This helps strengthen the ‘renewing’ power of the skin, making it resistant to environmental toxins as well.

Cupping for Blood Purification

According to Dr. Katase of Osaka University, cupping can draw out stagnated blood and increase the flow of good blood through veins and arteries. He believes that the therapy can increase the number of red and white blood cells and even make acidic blood alkaline or neutral. This brings about purification of blood.

Cupping Has Positive Effects on the Nervous System

Cupping therapy, when performed on middle aged or senior clients, has them sleeping soundly and snoring loudly all throughout the session! This clearly shows that cupping has a gentle and relaxing effect on the nerves. Many experts now believe that, like massage therapy, cupping therapy can also be used to treat chronic headaches, dizziness, stiff shoulders, fatigue, anxiety, neuralgia, and rheumatism.

Can you do cupping at home?

Cupping is best performed by a trained therapist since it involves heating the cups and placing them on specific energy points on one’s skin. While this can be done at home, it can be a bit tedious to do so. You must certainly get trained first and only then try out self cupping.

Cupping Side Effects and Contraindications

The therapy is generally very safe and can aid in complete healing and rejuvenation. Having said so, it is important to seek an experienced therapist for administering this therapy. Also, do speak to your healthcare provider first, particularly if you are taking prescription medicines or have skin, circulatory or heart related ailments. Pregnant women must avoid the therapy after their 2nd trimester has begun. Also, one must not use the cups on the genital areas, eyes, sun-burnt skin and open wounds. 


Traditional Chinese Medicine Cupping Therapy - E-Book

By Ilkay Z. Chirali

Before You Get Cupped: A Complete Beginners Guide to Cupping Therapy

Medical Disclaimer

The content found on this website is for informational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Information and statements regarding health related benefits of certain ingredients are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided is not meant to substitute the advice provided by your personal physician or other medical professional. Do not use the information found within this website to self-diagnose any medical conditions or treat any health problems or diseases. The information provided is not intended to prescribe or be taken as medical advice.

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