Introduction to Cupping
Cupping is a method of creating a vacuum on the skin to improve qi flow (energy flow) to promote healing, according to traditional Chinese medicine.
What is Cupping?
Cupping is a method of creating a vacuum on the skin to improve qi flow (energy flow) to promote healing, according to traditional Chinese medicine. Cupping can be performed in combination with acupuncture or other combinations for more effective outcomes, studies say.
Some of the benefits claimed include treating blood disorders such as anaemia and haemophilia, infertility, skin issues such as eczema and acne, hypertension, migraine, depression and rheumatic diseases such as arthritis. However, these benefits of cupping therapy are not backed up by studies.
How is the Cupping performed?
There are two types of cupping, either dry or wet. Dry cupping is said to provide a relaxation approach whereas wet cupping provides a more curative approach. In both methods, the skin is oiled to allow easy gliding of the cup along the skin. Cups can be used singly, or with many to cover a wider area of the skin.
Dry cupping involves creating a low pressure by heating the cup or the air inside, then placing it against the skin. Cooling of the air inside causes contraction, drawing the skin. The cup is held on the same location for around five to 15 minutes. Modern version of cupping creates vacuum inside the cup by using a rubber pump.
For wet cupping, the cup is left in place for about three minutes to suck the skin. The cup is then removed and superficial skin incisions are made using a small scalpel. A second suction is performed to draw out a small quantity of blood, including body toxins and other harmful substances. The site is then covered with antibiotic and bandaged. The marks on the skin should disappear within 10 days.
More modern technique involves using silicone cups instead of glass or plastic to reduce bruising.
How to prepare for Cupping?
Avoid cupping if you are pregnant, menstruating or have bone fractures or muscle spasms. Cupping should not be used to replace modern medicines for treating severe medical conditions as its benefits are thought to be a placebo effect rather than any actual benefits.
What happens after Cupping?
Although cupping is relatively safe, there may be some potential side effects like burns, bruises, discomfort and skin infection. Ointments and medications can be taken to alleviate these effects. However, if the pain is affecting your daily activities, contact your GP and schedule an appointment to seek advice.