What is cupping therapy - benefits and practice

  • By mary-v
  • On 25/07/2016
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What is cupping therapy - benefits and practice.

Cupping therapy and benefits of this practice

Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese therapy which involves the placing of 2 cups on a person’s skin for suction. The cups to be used can be made out of glass, bamboo or earthenware. The local suction on the skin promotes the flow of blood and results in faster healing of scar tissues, muscle knots and the connective tissues. Cupping therapy in our times make use of heat or electrical and hand pumps for suction.  

Origins of cupping therapy
Cupping therapy traces its origin back to the ancient civilizations of China, Egypt and the Middle East. We can find its first mention in the Ebers Papyrus (1,550 BC) where the Egyptian version of this therapy has been discussed in some details. According to many historians this practice dates as far back as 3000 BC. The Chinese have been using this technique since 1000 BC. Around 400 BC this therapy was quite popular in ancient Greece when Hippocrates used this for treating structural problems and other diseases. This therapy in its various forms soon spread to other parts of Asia and Europe. 
How to use cupping therapy
Broadly speaking cupping therapy comes in two main types:
    Dry cupping therapy
    Wet Cupping therapy also known as bleeding.
While dry cupping inclines more towards a therapeutic approach, wet cupping therapy offers a more curative treatment approach. In both kinds of cupping an inflammable substance like alcohol or paper is ignited and placed inside a cup. Once the fire extinguishes, the cup is placed in the target area on the patient’s body. 

 - Dry Cupping
In this procedure an area of low pressure is created in a small portion of the skin. The cups used come in various shapes and sizes. The bronze and bamboo cups of olden times are now replaced with glass and plastic cups. The required low pressure area is created by placing an open flame inside the cup which is then placed against the skin. When the air within starts to cool the skin is slightly drawn inside because of the vacuum created. These days a mechanical pump is also used for creating the vacuum. You can choose to have your skin lightly lubricated so that the cup can be slowly slid over the skin. However skin marking is normal after the removal of the cups. This treatment is least painful though the discoloration left by the edges of the cups would take a few hours to dissipate. 
 - Wet Cupping
Wet cupping also known as Al Hijamah or medicinal bleeding first finds its mention in the teachings of Muhammad. Even till date this continues to be a popular pain remedy in various parts of the Islamic world. To begin with, suction is created just like in the dry cupping therapy and the cup is left on for about 3 minutes. Now the therapist makes use of a scalpel to make tiny incisions on the patient’s skin. Now a second cup is used to suck in a few drops of toxic blood so as to enhance the healing process. After the conclusion of the therapy the incisions are treated with ointments and bandages so as to avert any possibilities of infections. Generally this process of healing is restricted to the back, shoulder blades and neck areas. In the Chinese version a 3 edged needle is used for puncturing the skin. The therapist at times squeezes the skin surrounding the site of puncture to facilitate easy flow of blood. 


Massage Cupping
Massage cupping is another form of dry cupping where oil is applied on the skin before the process of suction begins and the cups are slowly glided over the skin so as to create an effect of inverse massage. This technique can help in weight loss and cellulite reduction. Instead of glass cups, rubber or silicone cups are used in massage cupping for better feel and flexibility. 
Vacuum Cupping
Vacuum cupping or air cupping makes use of a pump instead of fire for creating the vacuum. This is the most commonly used form of cupping therapy in our times. This kind of cupping can also be used for performing massage cupping therapy. 
Fire cupping
In this form of cupping therapy a cotton ball soaked in alcohol is held with a pair of pliers and lit before being placed inside the cup. Then its quickly removed from the cup before placing it on the skin. 
Cupping therapy comes with numerous benefits and these days you will find many a celebrities who are cupping enthusiasts. Actresses like Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Simpson, Lady Gaga and Jennifer Anniston openly flaunts their cupping marks. 

What is used cupping therapy for


Benefits of cupping therapy

    Cupping therapy helps to eliminate the body toxins and stimulates the flow of fresh blood and lymph to the injured or sore area. 
    It works great against common cold, flu, chronic muscle pair, anxiety, itchy skin, allergies, fever etc. 
    Blood disorders like haemophilia and anemia can be cured with cupping therapy. 
    Patients of fibromyalgia, arthritis and other rheumatic diseases can also benefit immensely from this treatment. 
    Cupping therapy also works well against skin problems like acne, allergies and eczema. 
    It is said to cure migraine.
    High blood pressure and hypertension can be relieved with this therapy.
    This therapy is said to work against anxiety and depression. 
    It helps to cure asthma, allergy and bronchial congestion
    It helps to keep the varicose veins healthy. 
    It is supposed to heal all kinds of body pain and inflammation. 
    It is also said to promote well being and relaxation. 
However this therapy should not be used on patients who suffer from skin ulcers or muscle spasms. Pregnant women should ideally never be cupped on their skin and back areas. 

Side Effects

Cupping therapy is absolutely safe when performed by a trained and experienced therapist. Some of its side effects include the following: 
    Mild discomfort in the affected/treated area
    Burns and bruises
    It could also lead to skin infection if not performed with proper care. 

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