Ancient Art Of Cupping

The Wall Street Journal recently published an interesting article about the benefits of ancient Chinese treatment method – cupping. It mentioned that over the past three years a handful of new studies have shown cupping helps relieve back, neck, carpal tunnel and knee pain. This treatment is becoming very popular in the United States because it offers drug-free pain relief and is quite relaxing. So what is cupping?

Cupping is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine. In China, cupping is used primarily to treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and congestion; arthritis; gastrointestinal disorders; and certain types of pain. In the traditional method, called fire cupping, a ball of burning cotton is briefly placed inside a glass cup to heat the air inside, which then creates a partial vacuum as it cools. Newer-style plastic or silicone cups have valves that attach to hand pumps used to create suction. Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 10 to 20 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Some practitioners will also apply small amounts of medicated oils or herbal oils to the skin just before the cupping procedure, which lets them move the cups up and down particular acupuncture points or meridians after they have been applied. The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, balances and realigns the flow of qi, breaks up obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.

Cupping treatment is similar to deep tissue massage. It helps release fascia, connective tissue that can pull on muscles causing pain or limited motion. The result is less pain and tension in the affected area.

Cupping is also used as part of facial rejuvenation treatment. Small cups with valves are placed on certain acupuncture points on the face for a few seconds. Cupping stimulates blood flow to the tissues as well as collagen and elastin production and therefore smooths fine lines, relax tight facial muscles, moves out stagnant lymph, fluids and toxins. Face appears tighter and more toned.

A typical cupping session lasts about 30 minutes. It may also be a part of an acupuncture or a facial rejuvenation treatment.