Cupping therapy is a lesser known alternative medicine treatment with roots in Oriental and Egyptian medicine. Cupping is a technique that uses small glass, bamboo, or earthenware cups or jars as suction devices on the skin. Once suction is formed, the negative pressure can loosen knots in the soft tissue, drain excess fluids and toxins, encourage blood flow to muscles and skin, and stimulate the peripheral nervous system. In general, cupping therapy is thought to balance the homeostasis of the body.
There are several ways to create suction with the cups, but each method achieves the same results. One method uses a cotton ball soaked in alcohol; the cotton ball is lit, then inserted into the cup to create a vacuum. The cup is moved over the area that needs to be treated, the cotton ball is taken out, and the cup is inverted onto the skin, which creates suction. Another method is swab rubbing alcohol on the rim of the cup, lighting it, then putting the cup immediately against the skin (no flame in involved anywhere near the surface of the skin). Whatever method is used, as the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum and causes the skin to rise into the cup and redden as blood vessels expand.
Once suction has occurred, there are two main cupping techniques that can be applied. The first is called stationary cupping, in which the cups are left on the skin for about 5-15 minutes. The second technique, which is more common among massage therapists and health care professionals, is called moving or massage cupping. Before the cups are applied, oil is spread across the skin to facilitate movement; suction is created with the cups and they are then glided across the skin. Stubborn areas may require a pause in the movement of the cup, but smooth and continuous movement is the key to massage cupping.
Cupping therapy has a long list of benefits, which may explain its recently increased popularity. The vacuum-like technique results in helping to clear toxins and wastes from the lymphatic system and skin, and aids in the movement of fluid to avoid build up (which can result in painful swollen lymph nodes). The circulatory system benefits from the suction as well, as the cups draw blood into the body’s tissues. The suction can relieve muscle tightness, back and neck pain, anxiety and depression, fatigue, and even combat cellulite and scar tissue. This treatment also can be valuable for the lungs, and can clear congestion from a cold, asthma, or allergies.
Schedule an appointment for a detoxifying body treatment at our clinic to experience cupping, along with dry brushing and healing herbal compresses and treatment.