Cupping therapy is a traditional form of Chinese medicine, and according to some textbooks, it dates back to 1,550 B.C. We place the cups, which come in many sizes, on the skin, and create a vacuum underneath which binds the skin and muscle tissue. These cups can be made of earthenware, plastic, bamboo, and iron but mostly they are made of glass. They are still commonly used in China as supplementary treatment, combined with other techniques. Cupping therapy was also used in ancient Middle Eastern cultures. It is known, that in Chinese medicine the technique of creating a vacuum in certain parts of the skin helps facilitate the flow of “qi” in the body, qi meaning life force, where qi doesn't flow properly. This means that on the places where toxins accumulate, the flow is stimulated and the energetic flow, as well as blood and lymph circulation, are regulated. Cupping therapy opens the meridians of the body, regulates yin and yang energy, and reinforces the flow of the body.
There are two types of cupping therapy, dry and wet. Wet therapy is different in that the therapist makes a small incision in the area of the skin before applying the cup. That way blood and lymph which have accumulated in a certain area can be released, and this way it can get rid of toxins that a person could not release. This type of therapy is more complex because the environment must be completely sterile and the therapist must be very experienced as there is a greater risk of skin damage, scarring, and anemia. It is not as popular as dry therapy here. Dry therapy also involves the strategic placement of cups without the incisions. Because the vacuum itself induces circulation and stimulated secretion of toxins. In fact, there are so many variations of this treatment but they all have the same goal, to regenerate the body.
Fire and alcohol, or herbal essence, are used in traditional cupping. The therapist lubricates the cup with a flammable substance and approaches the cup with fire. The inside of the cup burns for a moment, the glass heats up and the cup is quickly placed on the skin area, most often on the back acupressure point connected to a specific organ. The air in the cup cools down quickly and this creates a vacuum. It sucks the skin into the cup and creates a strong pressure. However, the more modern technique uses cups with a rubber pump that allows the therapist to absorb the air and create a vacuum.
It depends how long the therapist leaves the cups on the skin. Approximately 5 to 15 minutes. After removal, more or less dark circles appear and they disappear in 10 to 14 days. Cups are most often placed on the back, but also on the stomach, hands, and legs. The placement and removal of the cups are not painful at all, although the pain during the treatment depends on the toxemia of the body. For example, if our spleen is very week, full of toxins, and has insufficient blood circulation, the cup placed on the spleen area will hurt more. The bruising will also be darker. This way, this technique can be used as a diagnosis. Although not to diagnose diseases and conditions - this is the doctor's job, but rather to illustrate blockages in the physical and energy body which are recognized by a therapist. Cups are used as a complementary treatment, i.e. in combination with suitable methods of official or holistic medicine. In Chinese medicine, many times the cupping therapy is used together with acupuncture as they act in a similar way and they support each other.
Why the cupping therapy:
It is effective in many types of diseases and injuries. Advocates claim that it cures neck, back, and knee pain. Many athletes resort to this therapy during hard training and competitions, as it also helps to regenerate the muscle tissue and helps with blood circulation. In people with high blood pressure, it has a soothing effect on the nervous system, thus regulating blood pressure. It also helps with viral diseases, respiratory tract problems, urogenital problems, arthritis, chronic migraines, and psychological conditions such as depression and anxiety. The lack of quality scientific studies on the treatment technique itself and its beneficial effects is reflected in the distrust in cupping therapy. Adversaries warn of possible permanent skin damage particularly with frequent treatments, anemia with regular wet therapy, and the inefficiency of therapy as such.
Cupping therapy must be performed by a qualified therapist and on the right person. Therapy is not recommended for everyone, and especially not for pregnant women or people who recently had a heart attack. It must not be carried out on inflamed, burned skin, varicose veins, damaged tissue, etc.
If we choose to use this therapy, we need to make sure that our therapist is highly qualified to perform it.
In recent years, the use of cosmetic cups in our vocabulary has expanded, whether sold online or offered in beauty parlors. We don't equate those with cupping therapy according to TCM. In most cases, when it comes to cosmetic cups, we are talking about softer plastic cups that create much less vacuum. They are used in cellulite reduction, skin tone improvement, and for so-called lifting of the face which happens because of better blood circulation. Small casings are used for the face. The air is manually extracted from the casings and then we slide them across the face to which we had applied cream or serum. We do this in the direction of muscles, from inside up, for example, from circular lip muscles to the scalp. Stronger and larger cups are used to reduce cellulite and loose skin. We can also use the technique of sliding cups with oil on the body. If those cups are made of plastic and are soft, we can safely use them for self-massage of the body and face. Blood circulation and inducement of the lymphatic system are always welcome and this leads to better-looking skin. It is important to know that these cups are much weaker than the therapy cups that require special training.
Cupping therapy can be an effective complementary technique that stimulates the flow of our body if it is properly implemented and in accordance with our problems and existing treatments.
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