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(Add IV Therapy to your cupping session for optimal benefit)
Cupping therapy, though it has been relatively unknown to Western civilization until recently, has been utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. Though techniques have been modernized, the philosophy behind this therapy has remained the same. Cupping therapy uses small glass, plastic, or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the body in various places. Cupping therapy is used to relieve pain, boost immune function, rid the body of toxins, and lower stress.
At the foundation of traditional Chinese medicine is the belief that the body has a flow of natural energy coursing through it. This energy is called “chi” or “qi.” If it continues moving throughout your body, then you are healthy. Traditional belief says that channels called “meridians” direct this flow of this energy. Injuries and illness may create blockages in the flow and cause you to feel ill.
How these treatments work to help you heal
Cupping therapy removes blockages so that your energy flows again. Cupping is used to create suction on your skin above the tissue damage. This suction also brings blood to the area being treated and heals by taking away waste through lymph flow. The principle behind treatment is to reduce inflammation and promote healing. A certified practitioner will consider your symptoms carefully to create a personalized plan. The cupping process takes about 30-40 minutes to perform.
For many, the journey towards choosing an alternative therapy begins with pain. Like massage or acupuncture, cupping therapy is also a non-invasive, safe, and natural way to reduce joint and muscle pain. One way to think of cupping is like an inverse massage. Rather than applying pressure, it uses suction to pull the tissue and muscle upwards. This serves to relax tense muscles and ease the stiffness often associated with chronic pain, especially for those with lower back issues, neck pain, and migraines. Many athletes have turned to cupping to reduce muscle cramps and to help maintain their mobility. Cupping therapy increases blood flow within capillaries and vessels, bringing much needed oxygen and nutrients to the soft tissues. Cups are commonly placed over pain points around the fleshy part of the shoulder blades, the lower back, neck, and legs.
Treating respiratory issues and colds
Over the ages, some of the most common ailments that cupping has been used to treat are respiratory conditions. Due to its ability to increase circulation, it has been a valuable treatment to nourish the lungs. Cupping therapy can help clear congestion caused by the flu or common cold and can even be beneficial in treating asthma. By moving blood and lymphatic fluid through the use of suction pressure, this therapy helps to boost immune function. Cupping has been linked with reductions in lung diseases like infections, allergies, and chronic coughs. In fact, cupping therapy was used to treat conditions like pulmonary tuberculosis long before modern medicine made prescriptions available.
People with disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find significant relief through cupping therapy, because decreasing stress is tied to a healthier digestive system. It can also be beneficial for people suffering frequent stomach pains, acute gastritis, water retention, and loss of appetite. For these treatments, cups are commonly placed around the navel, over the bladder or stomach, and around the kidneys.
Reducing stress and promoting relaxation
If you research cupping therapy, you might see pictures of dark circular marks on the skin and wonder how it could possibly be relaxing. The truth is, like acupuncture, this therapy is rarely painful. The marks tend to disappear within a day or two and will not be uncomfortable if the therapy is performed correctly by a certified practitioner.
Cupping has even been found to lower patients' response to stress significantly. As the muscle and tissues are flooded with oxygen and healing nutrients, they relax completely. This relaxation is extended to the central nervous system, which becomes sedated during a cupping session. In fact, it is not uncommon for patients to fall asleep during their sessions.
After Cupping Instructions
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Give your lymphatic system the extra fluids it needs to flush your body of the toxins. (Consider IV Therapy).
- Don’t shower immediately after cupping.
- Keep the areas that were treated covered and warm.
- Avoid alcohol.
- You may feel fatigued or experience flu-like symptoms the next day. This is normal. It’s your body processing and expelling the toxins that were released during your cupping session. Take it easy, get extra rest, and practice good self-care. Your body will thank you!
Evidence Based Articles
Complementary Therapies in Clinical PracticeVolume 29, November 2017, Pages 162-168 Cupping therapy: An analysis of the effects of suction on skin and the possible influence on human health
Journal of Bodywork and Movement TherapiesVolume 20, Issue 1, January 2016, Pages 173-178 New is the well-forgotten old: The use of dry cupping in musculoskeletal medicine
Journal of Traditional and Complementary MedicineVolume 9, Issue 2, April 2019, Pages 90-97 The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action.