What is Cupping
Cupping therapy is a traditional Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern form of skin suction using cups. These cups, which can be ordinary cups we use every day, are usually made of glass, earthenware, silicone, or bamboo. The cups are supposed to make vacuum on a few parts of your skin, make these parts swell, and draw harmful substances and toxins into the skin, where these adverse materials can be removed out of the body.
Although this relaxing treatment has recently become trendy all over the world (especially after the world saw a number of great athletes such as Michael Phelps with cupping bruises in the 2016 Summer Olympics), it has been used by billions and trillions of people for more than 3.5 thousand years.
How is Cupping Performed
At first, the therapist put a flammable substance such as alcohol or herbs in a cup and set it on fire. When the fire goes out, they immediately put the cup upside down on your skin. The air which is trapped inside the cup quickly cools and creates a type of vacuum. As a result, your skin turns red and rises upward while your blood vessels expand and a number of small vessels burst, leaving round bruises on your skin. The cups are often left on your skin for a few minutes. Sometimes, the therapist practices flash cupping by quickly attaching and detaching the cups from the skin for several repetitive times. In more modern applications, the therapist uses a type of rubber pump instead of fire in order to create the vacuum. Some types of cups, such as silicone cups, can be moved on your skin to create a more soothing massage experience.
How Many Types of Cupping Are There
There are two types of cupping: dry and wet. Both types deal with suction and hot cups which create vacuums on your skin. In the suction-only dry cupping method, which is also known as fire cupping, after the cups are removed, the therapist gently massages the skin with calming massage oil or lotion.
In the wet method of cupping (also known as needle cupping), after the cups are removed, the therapist uses a small and sterilized scalpel in order to make a few small and light cuts on your skin. Afterward, they do suction for a second time in order to draw out a few drops of blood. The bleeding is controlled, medicinal, and in small quantities. It is believed that wet cupping helps Detoxification from the blood and the body in order to accelerate the process of healing. After the wet cupping is carried out, an antibiotic ointment and bandage are used in order to prevent infection.
Is Cupping Painful
Not really! In terms of wet cupping, thinking of skin cuts, blood or vessel burst can make you feel scared. First of all, these cuts are not deep, and therefore not very painful. Moreover, the very primary suction can also make your suctioned skin part and its surrounding areas a little numb, which reduces the feeling of pain. Dry cupping is not and should not be too painful, while sometimes the pain is absolutely negligible. Actually, what you feel is something more like a cathartic and purifying small pinch rather than real pain. However, be completely open with your cupping therapist and talk to them about any type of problem or extreme pain you experience during the session.
What are the Benefits of Cupping
Cupping is believed to be helpful in muscle recovery or curing health complications. It is usually conducted for a variety of reasons. General purposes include:
- Reduced pain
- Reduced inflammation
- Better blood circulation
- Reduced high blood pressure
- Relieved muscles and connective tissues
- Promoted cell and tissue repair
- Reduced swelling
- Reduced muscle knots and soreness
- Reduced cholesterol
- Enhanced immune system functions
- Deeper relaxation and overall well-being
It is also believed to be capable of helping more sophisticated problems to be cured, problems such as:
- Rheumatic diseases including fibromyalgia and arthritis
- Infertility and gynecological disorders
- Coughs and dyspnea
- Pain in the neck, shoulder, knees, and back
- Mental and emotional complications such as anxiety and depression
- Lumbar disc herniation
- Sports recovery from strains, injuries, and bad postures
- Skin problems such as acne, herpes zoster, shingles, urticaria, and eczema
- Headaches such as sinus or migraine headaches
- Bronchial congestion caused by asthma and allergies
- Blood problems such as hemophilia and anemia
- Weight problems including extreme thinness or obesity
- Various other diseases such as facial paralysis, varicose veins, and cervical spondylosis
This ancient therapy can also work like a deep tissue massage. The cups are believed to be able to increase or decrease the person’s blood circulation and help to balance the blood flow around the cupping-applied body part. In Chinese medicine, balanced blood circulation means a higher level of wellbeing with better oxygen delivery and Detoxification. Chinese traditional medicine believes that cupping can facilitate the flow of Qi, which is the life force, in the body. They also believe that this treatment is helpful in balancing yin and yang, which are the negative and positive energies of the body.
What Can You Do Before Planning for a Cupping Therapy
Similar to taking any other complementary treatment, you should consult with your doctor about every aspect of the treatment. You can also have a consultation session with your cupping therapist before you receive the treatment. Make sure you ask every question you have from your cupping therapist, questions such as the conditions for which cupping is applied, what the therapist’s cupping certifications and experiences are, what methods of cupping treatment the therapist knows, what safety measurements the therapist applies, if the cupping is normally applied for your specific condition, and in what conditions you should not receive the treatment.
What Can You Expect from a Cupping Session
If you have not used any cupping therapy previously, the therapist can start the first session with only a few cups (or even one) to see if you generally like the feeling. This traditional therapy is relatively safe if carried out by a professional cupping therapist in a hygienic place. Nevertheless, you may feel a little discomfort, lightheadedness, dizziness, tiredness, or nausea during and after the session. You may also observe bruises, burns, or skin infection. However, these side effects should be mild and not lasting more than about 10 days. In case of observing any enduring side effects, make sure to visit your doctor.