Cupping Therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine which uses special cups on the body to create suction that employs negative pressure to tissue, rather than tissue compression. Creating this suction and negative pressure on the body’s tissues benefits the skin, muscles, fascia, joints, circulatory, nervous, respiratory and digestive systems.
Cupping Therapy dates back to 1000 BC and is a globally practiced medical treatment. We know from ancient stone carvings and drawings that the Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, Celts, Turks, Aztecs, Russians, Slavs, Italians, Persians, Romans, Nordics, Polish, Brazilians, Mayans, healers throughout the Islamic Nations and many indigenous tribes, all used multiple methods of Cupping through history.
What is Traditional Chinese Cupping?
Traditional Chinese medical texts say: that pain results from the congestion, stagnation, and blockage of vital energy, fluids, lymph, phlegm, and blood. If pain is the essence of disease, then suffering is a result of obstructed or irregular flow in the body energy network. Traditional Chinese Cupping is therefore a method of breaking up the stagnation and blockage to restore the body’s natural flow of energy.
Like Traditional Chinese Acupuncture, cupping is often preformed over the lines of the acupuncture meridians. Many meridians on the body correlate to the internal organs of the body. This is why cupping can be a powerful therapy that induces detoxification and stimulates the internal organs to function better. Negative pressure from the suction of the cups pulls stagnation and toxic debris to the surface of the skin, the pores expand and discharges toxins and water. The remaining waste are processed through the body’s lymphatic and circulatory system, where it can be properly removed and flushed out naturally. Cupping brings fresh revitalized nutrient rich blood into the area of stagnation and pain. There is often a profound healing effect felt post-cupping.
The effects and change in the tissue is truly amazing!
Cupping Therapy is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available by using the “powers of suction”. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. By creating this negative pressure above the surface of the tissues; the decrease in atmospheric pressure allows the tissues below to be lifted upwards increasing the space for the underlying structures. The suction from the cups quickly facilitates rigid soft tissue release, the action of pulling soft tissue upwards loosening areas of adhesions and restrictions, activates muscle spindle reflexes that relax contractile tissue allowing contracted congested tissue to soften. It helps retrain the myofascial structures and it activates the secretion of synovial fluids to release joint stiffness.
Within minutes cupping therapy localizes the expansion of tissue producing a profound vasodilation reaction- drawing blood flow to areas of stagnation, it raises skin temperature promoting metabolism within the skin tissue for better functioning of sweat and sebaceous glands, flushing capillary beds, draining stagnant blood, lymph and toxins and re-supplying vital nutrients and blood to the tissues.
What are the discolouration that sometime occur during treatments?
Most people interpret the marks that can occur during Cupping Therapy as a bruise, it can certainly visually look like one, but these discolourations are not bruises. When circulation is compromised or sluggish in an injured or diseased area of the body insufficient oxygen gets to the cells and there is a local build up of waste products. Negative pressure suction action basically creates an internal vacuum – non-oxygenated blood, stagnant toxins and cellular debris are drawn to the cupping site which will cause the discolouration in the skin. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the skin reaction at the cupping site can be a diagnostic tool showing the severity of condition and type of patterns the individual is presenting.
The western term for these discolourations is Petechia, which is described as a slight subcutaneous discharge of blood from the blood vessels. The negative pressure on the suction vessels cause extravastion of blood from the peripheral capillaries which results in subcutaneous blemishing, but it does not represent capillary rupture, as evident in bruising.
The discolourations fade over time, it varies from treatment to treatment, it could be a few hours to several weeks. The length of time it takes for them to fade indicates the severity and toxicity of the condition. As treatments accumulate, the marks will occur less and less. This is a direct result of stagnation, toxic waste and debris being expelled from the body.
What does Cupping Therapy feel like?
Often Cupping Therapy is combined with Traditional Chinese Acupuncture for the best results, but can be experienced as a stand-alone treatment.
Your experience receiving Cupping Therapy can vary dramatically depending on the individual constitution, conditions, body type, patterns, areas of pain, stress and tension levels at that moment in time. The feeling and sensations received from Cupping Therapy covers a pretty wide spectrum, it can feel deeply pleasurable to various degrees of uncomfortable. It’s a treatment that requires a lot of feedback to the therapist by relaying the sensations being felt and comfort level of the suction of the cups. The therapist can control the level of suction experienced from light, medium, or heavy and will accommodate to what is best for that individual.
Often people feel altered and relaxed after treatment. One of the reasons cupping is so effective in sedation of the body is the strong stimulating pull on the millions of nerve endings under the cups. The pulling action engages the parasympathetic nervous system, thus allowing deep relaxation to move through the entire body.
Health Conditions you can treat with Cupping Therapy:
- Chronic Pain
- Tennis Elbow
- Fertility and Gynecological Disorders
- Menstrual Cramps
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
- Back Pain
- SI Joint Pain & Hip Pain
- Achilles Tendon Injuries
- Gluteal Injuries
- Constipation & IBS
- Circulation Problems
- Blood Pressure
- Stiff Joints
- Restless Leg Syndrome
- Muscle Strain & Sprain
- Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
- Frozen Shoulder Syndrome
- Sinus Compaction, Infection & Allergies
- Resolves Phlegm
- IT Band Contracture
- Tension in the Body
- TMJ and Jaw Clenching
- Headaches & Migraines
- Neck and Shoulder Pain
- Planter Fasciitis and Heel Spurs
- Chronic Pelvic Pain
- Sport Injuries
- Mental problems, sleeping disorders, depression, anxiety, nervous tension
- Rheumatism & Arthritis
- Respiratory Issues, Lung Congestion, Common Cold, Bronchial Congestion
- Facial paralysis
- Skin conditions, Eczema & Acne
Contact us to book a TCM Cupping Therapy appointment, if you think that cupping could help you!
Written by: Valerie Rose Dyer, Registered Acupuncturist