What is cupping therapy and what are the health benefits?
Cupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine, which dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Eastern cultures.
Cupping therapy involves placing a glass or silicone cups on the patient’s skin to create a vacuum. This draws the blood to the surface of the skin where the cups are placed.
Traditional Chinese practitioners discuss different areas, or meridians, of the body that are used to transfer energy. They believe each body has twelve different meridians and treatment can be applied to each meridian for a number of reasons.
However, cupping can also be used in Western society as an alternative medicine helping with muscular tightness, sporting injuries, and skin conditions.
Different types of cupping
Vacuum cupping is where a pump is attached to the top of the cup and a vacuum is created by pumping the air out of the cup. The therapist cleans and sterilises the targeted area on the patient’s body and applies herbal oils or skin cream for lubrication. The appropriate sized cups are then placed on the patient’s body and suction is caused by pumping the air out.
The mechanism used is simple. A connector links the cup to the pump that sucks the air out. Once the optimum amount of suction is created, the valve on the top of the cup is closed and the connector and pump are disconnected. This is a very common and popular type of cupping because there is no flame needed to create the vacuum and the administrator has complete control over the amount of suction.
During dry cupping, the glass cup or vessel is set on fire using a flammable substance such as alcohol or herbs. The fire begins to go out, and the practitioner places the cup on the surface of the patient’s skin.
As the therapy cup cools, it creates a vacuum or suction. The skin will rise into the glass cup and will begin to redden. Typically, these glass or silicone cups are set in place for up to three minutes at a time. But some treatments require longer times and can last up to twenty minutes.
Dry cupping produces a low amount of pressure. The cups are better suited for use on the softer tissue so that a secure and tight seal is allowed against the skin. The skin may also be lubricated so that the cups can be moved around from one area to a larger area.
Wet cupping produces a milder suction or vacuum and can also be kept in place for up to three minutes like dry cupping therapy. However, during a wet cupping therapy session, the cupping therapist will make small cuts on the patient’s skin, typically by using a sterilized scalpel and then perform a second cupping session to draw out some of the blood. It can take up to ten days for the patient’s skin to return to normal after a wet cupping therapy session. It is important that the skin is cleaned before and after a wet cupping therapy session so that any risk of infection can be avoided.
During massage cupping, the practitioner can move the cups around and glide them across your skin, and it is recognised as a form of massage therapy. Massage Cupping has also been used for weight loss and cellulite reduction. Silicone therapy cups are more typically used for this form of cupping therapy because these therapy cups are softer and more flexible which makes it easier for the practitioner to glide them across the patient’s body.
In massage cupping therapy, the muscles are tended to with the application of pressure. Negative pressure is better to help with pain management than tissue compression. With the cupping therapy method, the skin, tissue, and muscles are instead pulled upwards to enhance circulation and provide pain management.
Massage cupping therapy also utilizes different oils so that the cup can glide easily across the back of the patient. Massage cupping is considered an alternative medicine to help with pain management and induces feelings of relaxation and stress relief to ease tension.
The benefits of cupping
Local pain relief
Increases circulation and oxygenation of the blood in an affected area
Passively stretches myofascial tissue
Increases range of motion of the affected area
Increases collagen production and tissue repair
Relieves muscle spasms
Breaks up adhesions in tissue (similar to massage)
Helps with clearing natural energy pathways inside the body
Depending on the cupping technique used, it can help remove toxic blood
Potential side-effects of cupping
May produce small bruises or redness
Cupping is safe for pretty much everybody!
However, there are a few exceptions where cupping would not be the best option for treatment, these are listed below:
– Young children
– People with heart problems
– Currently taking blood thinning meds
– Open wounds
– History of vascular disease such as DVT
– Varicose veins
– Any bleeding
Patients should be aware that cupping therapy can potentially bruise or mark the skin. The marks can last anywhere between a day and a week. The marks are nothing to worry about and should not be painful.
Here at Comfort Health we use Vacuum Cupping and Massage Cupping if you feel like you would like to experience cupping or you have an injury which vacuum cupping could help. Click Here and book in today to experience it first hand.