What is Cupping Therapy? Pain, Digestion, Benefits

The basic idea behind cupping therapy is to place glass..

What is Cupping Therapy? Pain, Digestion, Benefits

The basic idea behind cupping therapy is to place glass cups or silicone cups on the patient’s skin to create a vacuum.

So the blood is drawn to the surface of the skin in specific parts of the body that need healing.

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 myriad of reasons.

Alternative medicine is defined as any form of medical treatment that is used in the place of traditional therapies or traditional and modern scientific medicine and practices.

It claims to provide healing effects that other forms of medicinal therapy have not been proven to work.

Alternative medicine is quickly growing in popularity as a way to promote the same healing properties that can be found in traditional medicine but without the risk of the same side effects.

What is Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy was first discussed in old medical textbooks in the Western World and was described as a medical practice that was used by Egyptians.

There have also been accounts of Hippocrates using the Cupping Method for internal disease.

Fire Cupping has also been practiced throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Cupping therapy is an alternative form of medicine and is perhaps better known as a traditional Chinese Medicine, like acupuncture.

Cupping used to be performed using hollowed out animal horns and was a method employed to treat boils, snakebites, and skin lesions.

The cupping method was said to pull toxins from the body.

The application of cupping throughout the years has evolved from the use of animal horns to bamboo cups, and then to the glass cups, we see used today.

Therapy cups can also be made from earthenware and silicone materials that can withstand being exposed to elevated temperatures during the heating process.

Several other cultures used cupping therapy as a method to treat several different ailments.

The Chinese have been reported to use cupping during surgical procedures as a way to help divert the blood flow from the surgical site.

American and European doctors have used cupping to treat more common ailments such as the common cold and chest infections and congestion.

Cupping therapy, also known as hijama therapy in some Arabic cultures.

Is a fascinating alternative form of medicine that has received mention in historical accounts dating from possibly 5,000 years ago.

Chinese Cupping Therapy is often used in conjunction with more commonly known forms of traditional Chinese medicine treatments and methods such as acupuncture and acupressure.

Health Benefits Of Cupping Therapy

1. Pain relief

Pain relief is one of the main reasons people use cupping. An analysis of multiple clinical trials published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine showed that compared to traditional treatments, cupping offered positive effects for relieving cancer pain compared to analgesics and anti-cancer drugs.

Cupping targets soft tissue with pressure applied to pain points and areas of swelling.

This helps to increase blood flow and give the tissues important nutrients and oxygen.

It’s believed to help release tissues deep within the body. Relax tense muscles and ease stiffness that’s often associated with neck and back pain, migraines and rheumatism.

Practitioners use pressure along with heat and suctioning (and sometimes needles), near the site of the injury.

This allows energy to flow along the meridians, or channels, which pass through the injury.

2. Relaxation

Let’s face it. No matter how hard you try to relax, you’re just not going to get there if your muscles are tight and sore.

Enter cupping therapy!

It works to loosen muscles like no other form of massage can – with negative pressure.

And the benefits don’t stop once your muscles are relaxed; no, my friend, they’re only just beginning!

You see, cupping works along the lines of your body’s meridians.

A trained expert will position the cups in a way that opens these meridians, allowing vital energy to flow through them.

Through this, your entire body and mind can be cleared of blockages for total relaxation.

3. Inducing inflammation to heal injuries faster

Inflammation is part of the body’s defense mechanism. Which helps kick things into action to help heal illness and injury.

If you suffer from a muscular injury, the first thing you probably do is rush to get an ice pack, but when it’s allowed to become inflamed.

That actually helps to flood the injured muscle with blood, along with nutrients, platelets, white blood cells and fibroblasts to aid in healing. 

Cupping therapy works much the same way by drawing blood to the affected area so that new blood vessels can be created.

It helps to heal knots and adhesions, which is why so many athletes have been turning to this therapy. It helps their body to recover faster from intense workout sessions.

4. Anti-Aging Benefits

This therapy offers anti-aging effects such as prevention of wrinkles.

Cupping brings more nutrients to the skin, which gives your skin a younger, glowing appearance.

The lifting motion associated with the suctioning can also help to reduce visible fine lines.

Cupping can even go so far as to lessen the appearance of injury or acne scarring.

Stimulation of connecting tissues under facial skin helps to reduce laugh and smile lines and help with puffiness.

5. Relieving digestive disorders

Cupping is also becoming a popular practice for relieving symptoms of digestive disorders, including irritable bowel syndrome, or IBS.

It’s believed to work partly because of the stress-relieving effects of cupping, which has been strongly linked to healthier digestion.

Stress, tension and anxiety are all communicated to organs throughout the body, including digestive processes.

When that happens, things start to get congested, and as a result, you feel bloated and constipated.

Cupping releases the stagnation, helping to get things moving along, and relaxing you so that systems function normally again.

The therapy has been found to be effective for water retention, diarrhea, stomach cramps, gastritis, loss of appetite and a host of gastrointestinal diseases.

6. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a progressive, painful condition that interferes with the sensation and strength of your hands.

In some cases, this condition can even decrease the functionality of your hands. Cupping can provide temporary pain relief from carpal tunnel syndrome.

Is Cupping Therapy Safe?

Cupping might sound a bit scary to someone who’s new to the practice. But rest assured that cupping isn’t usually painful and most trained practitioners are very careful to use sterile equipment.

During a cupping session, it’s common to feel some heat and tightness around the cup. But many people find this to actually be relaxing and soothing.

Cupping has come a long way since it first originated in terms of hygiene and improved safety standards.

Today, most cupping practitioners use rubber gloves, new and sterile needles (if wet cupping is being done). And alcohol swabs to reduce the risk for contamination or blood transfer.

As cupping becomes more popular on a global scale. More nations are mandating that safety guidelines be carefully followed, which is good news for patients.

Cupping is considered a safe practice

Cupping is considered a safe practice, but it’s important to find a well-trained practitioner who is licensed and follows legislated guidelines.

While the different cupping techniques seem to be similar in terms of effectiveness, dry cupping is likely the safest since it doesn’t involve needles or blood.

Make sure to do your research and find an experienced practitioner who is well-trained in using cupping tools.

Which will ensure you get the most benefits from your session and aren’t at risk for injury.

Cupping should be avoided if the patient is experiencing a skin infection, inflammation, ulcer or sensitivity.

It’s also not recommended for pregnant women since not enough research has been done to shown it’s safe.

Keep in mind that it’s not uncommon for skin discoloration to develop after cupping, which can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks.

For people with bleeding disorders or who are prone to bruising, cupping should be avoided.

It can cause minor and temporary bruising in some people. But this can become problematic for those who don’t heal well from bruises.

Daniel Messer, RNutr, CPT

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