Monday, April 30, 2012

Cupping for Everyone


No, this isn't rare torture, it feels fantastic, a sort of a suction massage with excellent therapeutic benefits. Cupping is an ancient medical art under the rubric of Chinese Medicine. Cupping has been documented in China as early as 1000 B.C. but has been used for centuries in many different cultures. There is reason to believe the practice dates from as early as 3000 B.C.; the earliest record of cupping is in the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world. It describes the process in which in 1,550 B.C. Egyptians used cupping. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used cupping for internal disease and structural problems. This method in multiple forms spread into medicine throughout Asian and European civilizations.

Today there are cups of many differnt materials. Bamboo, earthenware, copper, iron, glass, plastic, silicone seal, there are many options. In my practice I get the best results with glass cups seen above. There are different sizes for different parts of the body. Cupping is great for the back, the IT band, there are even tiny cups for the hands to help relieve arthritis pain. Today fire cupping is the most common form of this art. In this process, suction is created with a flame then quickly applied to the skin. For my pediatric patients I use plastic cups with a quick-release hand pump.

Why cup? In Chinese medicine, the main function of cupping is to move blood and lymph fluids, thereby reducing stagnation and pain. It is excellent for treating the early and later stages of upper respiratory infections, it is indespensible in treatment of neck and shoulder constriction and pain, IT band tightness and pain, as well as deep pain in the low back and sacrum. A deeply relaxing practice, it can ease anxiety and insomnia quickly and easily. Cupping can arrest an asthma attack in moments in small children, and can reduce systemic blood stagnation.

Moving cups, or a process where a cup is applied to oiled skin and moved carefully over a distance, usually the back, is effective in treating many disharmonies including emotional stagnation including frustration, insomnia, anxiety and depression. In my practice I almost always use cupping in conjunction with a regular needling treatment, either before or following a treatment. However, it can be effective treatment for those with a fear of needles, or as a follow up to a Tui Na, or Chinese acupressure massage treatment.