Cupping therapy is a form of therapy where suction cups are placed around various parts of the body. Many people believe that the suction from these cups helps to encourage blood flow and healing.
Cupping therapy is an alternative therapy that has been used in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East for thousands of years, with some records of its use going as far back as 1550 BC. While many in the west are skeptical of its benefits, a research paper published in 2012 entitled "An Updated Review of the Efficacy of Cupping Therapy" found that the use of cupping therapy significantly improved the success rates in treating a number of illnesses.
Types of Cupping
There are two main types of cupping: dry and wet. Dry cupping is when the therapy relies solely on the creation of suction. In wet therapy on the other hand, the suction is used in conjunction with controlled bleeding.
The main principal behind cupping is that the suction created encourages blood and lymph flow, so the cups are placed and moved in a specific order and time. In dry cupping, there are two main ways that people are treated. Flash cupping is where the cups are placed and removed very quickly, without being moved around. The other technique is known by a few different names, such as sliding cupping or gliding cupping. This is where the cups are placed on the body and moved around without breaking contact with the skin. This aims to increase circulation and acts as a sort of massage.
In wet cupping, the cups are placed on the person's body, usually directly where the pain is. After a few moments, when the skin under the cup begins to swell, the cup is removed and replaced after several small incisions are made in the skin. The suction created by the cup causes blood to pour out of these incisions, in an effort to encourage blood flow to that area and get the body to create new, clean blood. The cups are usually left on for no longer than ten minutes.
What is it Used For?
Cupping is used for a very wide range of conditions, although most of these will be related to either the blood of muscles. It is often used for pain, and in particular muscle pain, although it is also used for things like acne, shingles, and other skin problems. Practitioners also tout its benefits for in treating migraines, fertility problems, rheumatic diseases, and more. Cupping therapy is not used to drain spots, boils, etc. directly, but is used to encourage the blood to flow and help the body take care of itself.
Traditionally, the cups used were made out of materials like glass or ceramic, although many practitioners now use cups made of glass, plastic, or metal. There is also the option of using modern suction techniques, or the traditionally used fire. In these cases, things like oils and cotton are used to create the fire inside the cup itself, which then extinguishes when the cup is placed on the body. If using fire, it should never touch the patient's skin. Cupping therapy is often used alongside other forms of alternative medicine, such as acupuncture or acupressure.
Those who are considering using cupping therapy should be aware that the procedure does leave quite noticeable bruises on the skin for about ten days, and it is important that you first visit a doctor and find out exactly what the root of your problem is. While there are many people who have found cupping useful, there are a number of conditions that could be made worse by applying the wrong form of therapy, so it is crucial to identify the cause of your discomfort first.
If you are interested in undergoing Cupping Therapy treatment, our pysiotherapist Sara Smits would be happy to help you.