Cupping Therapy is a form of alternative medicine to stimulate the flow of blood in your body.
It uses cups that stick to your body and suck some skin because of heat or the application of suction.
This action regulates blood flow and releases muscle tension creating new tissues and blood vessels. It also repairs cells and claims to treat multiple conditions.
This article discusses the different forms of cupping, its procedure and how you can benefit from it. Keep reading to know more.
Types of Cupping
This procedure involves the use of cups to create suction in the skin.
Originally horns were used to carry it out. That later turned into bamboo, ceramic and glass.
There are many different types of cupping such as:
- Oil or Sliding involves massage oils and sliding the cups across different areas.
- Moxa therapy involving the use of plant materials. The therapist burns them near your skin to regulate the flow of Qi in the body.
- Flash or Empty Cupping involves the use of empty cups going on your body in a quick instant without much retention. This helps to give circulation across a big area.
- Fire Cupping
- Water Cupping
- Dry Cupping
- Others include acupuncture cupping, hot needle, tonifying, liquid, solar plexus, deep tissue cupping
Dry Cupping is a popular ancient technique that either uses fire or a suction pump to work.
Your therapist puts a flammable substance like herbs and lit the fire. As soon as it extinguishes, they will place it on your body and it will create suction.
They perform this on painful areas or pain points such as the back or knees.
The therapist performs Oil Cupping also known as sliding on large muscles usually present on the back. It helps to heal pain and muscle spasms.
That is why you see athletes such as swimmers (Michael Phelps) with apparent red circles on their bodies.
It includes applying massage oil or essential oils over the skin and sliding the cups over your back to cover it by gliding it on the surface.
Moreover, there is air cupping using a suction pump. It is a form of dry cupping but uses a suction pump instead of fire to create suction.
The therapist places the cups on your back and sucks air using the pump to create a vacuum which brings the skin upwards.
Since this does not use fire or heat, it is comparatively easier more comfortable for people.
Wet Cupping is also known as hijama. It combines the process of acupuncture with cupping therapy.
The therapist uses a blood lancet to prick the skin in the pain point, before using the cups.
A small amount of blood flows from the area which can remove toxins inside the body.
Other than different types of procedure there are also several types of cups or instruments that carry out the procedure.
- Suction with horns
- Glass with fire
- Hijama with plastic
- Nabhi pump
- Small silicone cups for facial
- Wooden cups made of bamboo
There is not enough research on the effectiveness of cupping but therapists do believe that it reduces pain in the muscles and dispels different toxins to rejuvenate blood circulation.
Learn about the other benefits below!
Benefits of Cupping Therapy
This therapy is in wide use in East Asia and the Middle East. It can cure muscle pain, aches and spasms.
Some researchers conclude that this treatment is more effective when acupuncture and medicines complement it.
These cure diseases and infections like herpes, acne, shingles, lumbar disc herniation, facial paralysis, cervical spondylosis and cough.
Hence, it can treat infections as well as digestive problems and skin issues.
Other than that it is also thought to treat:
*Gynecological disease such as fertility
*High blood pressure
*Anemia, hemophilia and other blood disorders
*Mental health problems like depression and anxiety
*Arthritis and other rheumatic and bones related diseases
*Congestion in the bronchus due to asthma or allergies
Though there is less proof of cupping working on these diseases, people still get it for them.
This treatment basically brings the circulation and blood flow to a specific point to treat it.
Hence, it is effective in treating any muscle tension, swelling, providing pain relief and redness in that particular pain point.
What it actually does is loosening the connective tissue hence increasing the flow of blood to that area.
The tissues relax and the communication between cells improves.
There is a change in cell level where the inflammation cytokines decrease and the cytokines responsible for healing increase. Therefore, your body relaxes as it promotes healing.
Though this treatment originates from China and in Traditional Chinese Medicine it restores the circulation of qi in the body ridding it of toxins and impurities by bringing them to the surface.
Hence, it removes any blockages of energy and blood flow inside the body.
Hence, it overall eases pain and allows the muscles to relax while invigorating healthy energy inside your body.
Though, it also has some side effects. Let’s discuss them below!
Cupping Therapy Side Effects
The treatment is usually safe for everyone. However, it is better if you consult your doctor and seek medical advice beforehand.
Doctors do not provide this therapy but traditional Chinese medicine practitioners or therapists do.
Hence, if you suffer from any condition, let your doctor know that you are considering it as a treatment option.
You may witness side effects during the procedure because of the blood flow and the use of cups.
As the practitioner carries out the treatment you can feel dizzy. Also, there can be slight nausea, discomfort and sweating.
Later you will see red circles because of the cups on your skin. The skin at the place where the rim was can also become red and cause irritation.
Furthermore, you may feel light-headed as soon as you finish the treatment. You may experience pain if you chose wet cupping as the incision sites can hurt.
In rare cases, you may get an infection, bruise or burns through the treatment. Your skin can also scar sometimes.
Though as long as your practitioner is careful and takes proper care of hygiene then you are good to go.
Check if they wear disposable gloves, goggles, have properly clean equipment, and an apron.
Also, ask if they have had their hepatitis vaccine and Covid-19 vaccine to prevent any disease.
Check if their equipment is properly sterilized as this can prevent the spread of bloodborne disease between patients.
If you see any of the severe reactions and side effects like burning, irritation or skin infection, immediately consult your practitioner.
They may suggest treatment such as ointments or remedies to ease your discomfort.
After your procedure, rest for the day as you can feel nauseous and dizzy.
Though, what really happens during the procedure and what is its preparation? We cover that below!
Before you begin ask both your doctor and your practitioner if the therapy is a good choice for you.
It may be better to take medicines rather than choosing alternate medicine in some cases.
Also, ask if there are certain reasons (using medicines, having an allergy or disease) that you should not get this therapy for.
Remember that not everyone can get cupping. It is not suitable for you if:
- You are menstruating at the time of the therapy
- Your child under the age of 4 years should not get it, even an older child should get a short treatment
- You are pregnant then you should not get it anyway near the lower back as well as the abdomen
- Your skin is fragile and thin because of your old age. Senior citizens should also be wary of the medicines they take.
You should not go for cupping if you have a skin ulcer, an organ disorder, use blood-thinning medicines, wound, sunburn, or were recently in an accident.
If you clear all of these, then eat lightly or fast before your session and step in for your treatment.
Wear clothes that you can change during the session. As you lie down, the therapist starts the treatment.
If you go for oil cupping, then they will first apply massage oils, if you choose dry or wet cupping, they will directly apply the cups.
The therapist may light a fire inside the cups or place them first and use a rubber suction pump to suck the skin and muscle.
Fire also helps to create a vacuum as the hot cup cools down. The pressure changes and the blood vessels react to it turning your skin red.
The cup will stay in place in case of dry cupping for about 5 to 10 minutes. Whereas the therapist will remove the cup soon in wet cupping and make a small prick that draws blood.
You will get a maximum of 3 to 5 cups in your first session. It is rare to go over 5 cups for the treatment.
As they remove the cup, they will apply bandages and an ointment on the red spots so that they do not become bruise or lead to infection.
Though, these marks will persist for a while and will go away after 10 days.
You will soon notice the results in the form of relief from pain and relaxation of muscles.
Cupping therapy is an alternative therapy that a doctor does not practice.
Therefore, before you go for one session, make sure to consult your doctor.
If you do not have any health issues then you are fit to proceed after you confirm the sterilization of the equipment and experience of your practitioner.