Cupping is a type of alternative therapy that originated in China. It involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. The suction facilitates healing with blood flow, as well as the flow of “qi” in the body. Qi is a Chinese word meaning life force.
Cupping increases blood circulation to the area where the cups are placed. This can relieve muscle tension, which can improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair. It can 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 ailments 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 often heated with fire using alcohol, herbs, or paper that are placed directly into the cup. The fire source is removed and the heated cup is placed with the open side directly on your skin. Some modern cupping practitioners have shifted to using rubber pumps to create suction versus more traditional heat methods.
When the 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.
With dry cupping, the cup is set in place for a set time, usually between 5 and 10 minutes. With wet cupping, cups are usually only in place for a few minutes before the practitioner removes the cup and makes a small incision to draw blood.
After the cups are removed, the practitioner may cover the previously cupped areas with ointment and bandages. This helps prevent infection. Any bruising or other marks usually go away within 10 days of the 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 digestive issues, skin issues, and other conditions commonly treated with acupressure.