A newer, now becoming mainstream, method of re-balancing energy flows by use of suction might sound like an unlikely healing technique, but it’s been used in Asia and northern Africa for thousands of years. Known as cupping, this form of therapy uses small cups made out of glass, ceramic, or even bamboo to increase blood flow in specific parts of the body. This is thought to change the way energy moves throughout the patient’s entire being, treating or even curing a wide range of conditions.
WELLNESS: WHAT IS CUPPING THERAPY
How Cupping Works
Traditional cupping techniques involve placing a flammable material inside the cup and setting it on fire. As the fire burns, it creates a higher pressure level inside the cup. This increases blood flow to that part of the skin. More modern cupping sets may use medical-grade glass or silicone cups, and pumps to induce the pressure differential.
The results are similar, however: increased pressure draws blood to the surface, leaving a red mark or bruise. After a cupping session, your body might be covered in small round marks, which will usually go away after a few days. They can be painful, but are not usually dangerous in any way.
Dry Vs. Wet Cupping
Dry cupping is the most common technique throughout Asia and in traditional Chinese medicine. Some practitioners in Muslim countries prefer wet cupping. This form of medicinal bleeding involves using a scalpel to make a small incision. Releasing blood this way is thought to help remove impurities and resolve illnesses. Dry cupping practitioners feel that the pressure alone is enough to rebalance the body’s energies.
Conditions Treated with Cupping
Cupping therapy can be used to treat a number of different conditions, ranging from muscle fatigue and injuries experienced in athletic training to chronic facial paralysis. Some of the more common conditions that receive cupping treatment include skin problems, blood disorders, chronic pain disorders and respiratory conditions.
Mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression, may also be attributed to energy imbalances, and may be corrected by this kind of treatment. Cupping can be used on its own or in conjunction with other techniques like acupuncture and herbalism, as well as with conventional medicine. Consult with your doctor and with alternative specialists about the best way to combine the two approaches.
Potential Side Effects
When performed by trained professionals, cupping rarely has severe side effects. However, there are still a few possible drawbacks. The process itself can be uncomfortable, and it usually leaves behind bruising or red marks. The flammable materials used in cupping can cause burns in some cases. If burns or cuts from wet cupping are not treated properly, infection is also possible.
It’s important to avoid cupping if you have certain medical conditions. For instance, if you suffer from muscle spasms, the pressure of cupping could make the problem worse. You should also avoid cupping on any part of the body where there is an artery or an ulcer, as well as parts where the pulse can be easily felt. It’s also best to receive cupping therapy in conjunction with other treatments, including conventional medicine. Complementary therapies usually produce the best results overall.
While cupping therapy may not be as well known as acupuncture or other alternative treatments, it is still a promising option. With its long history and traditional support, cupping could be the right addition to many treatment regimens. While there is still relatively little evidence available for cupping in the literature, it’s still the treatment of choice for patients from cultures all over the world. It may look uncomfortable or unusual, but in the end, cupping therapy is all about balance.