Cupping therapy has a long history in China, It is an ancient Chinese cultural treasure. During the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, American swimmer Michael Phelps used cupping therapy to facilitate physical recovery and rehabilitation. In the view of modern medical science, after swimming for a long time, lots of exercise can lead to lactic acid buildup, which is considered as dampness in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cupping can help remove such dampness. It is particularly suitable for athletes like swimmers.
Cupping therapy uses cups as tools, it uses fire to generate decompression which turns the cups into suction cups causing partial bruises, to clear and activate the channels and collaterals, promote blood circulation, relieve swelling and pain.
Types of Cupping & Benefits
Traditional fire cupping jars include: glass cupping jar and bamboo cupping jar, nowadays we have vacuum cups.
And cupping methods are also varied, such as retaining cupping, moving cupping, flash cupping, medicinal cupping, acupuncture cupping, and bloodletting cupping.
Fire Cupping not only can help remove dampness, but also warm channel, expel coldness, promote blood circulation, clear internal heat, and promote qi circulation. Cupping therapy can be used to treat cold, summer dampness, cough, asthma, joint pain, abdominal pain, indigestion and diarrhea.
For kids, it is difficult to getting them to take medicine, cupping as a non-drug therapy can be used to treat some childhood illnesses, like fever, indigestion and constipation. In term of cupping methods, moving cupping and flash cupping can be adopted.
Cupping is not suitable for those with certain skin disease, poor tissue elasticity, or those who are too skinny. Cupping should not be done on areas with concentrated blood vessels, hairs, precordium, eyes, ears, nose, and nipples. Cupping is also not allowed in case of high fever, coma, convulsions, pregnancy, edema or abdominal dropsy.
Uses and Clinical Practice
For example, when we suffer from shoulder pain and discomfort, cupping can be done on fleshy part of the muscle, such as backs, using the method of retaining cupping. For acupoint selection, cupping can be performed around the “Well Points”, between the shoulder blades.
Cups can be retained on skin for 10-15 minutes, depending on each patient’s condition. Keep the cups on the skin for a longer time may cause severe blisters or bruising. In case of minor blisters, it is ok and will heal quickly. In case of severe blisters, hospital medical treatment is suggested.
When performing a fire cupping, hold a small piece of gauze with a pair of tweezers, wet it slightly with alcohol (95%), squeeze out excess alcohol, ignite it, put the burning gauze into the cup which is held about 7-8 cm from the skin, shake it for a second, and put it onto the skin.
Cupping can also be used to treat waist pain and strain of lumbar muscles, if these symptoms are not caused by organic diseases or disorder. In term of cupping methods, retaining cupping or flash cupping can be adopted. Leave the cups for 10-15 minutes on certain acupuncture points; if the area is not fleshy, flash cupping can be used. As for flash cupping, the cups are only in place for a short amount of time (usually 1~2 seconds), then removed, and reapplied.