Cupping is a method of relieving local congestion by applying a partial vacuum which is created in a cup or cups, either by heat or by suction. Cupping has been used for thousands of years. Although it is often associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine, the entire world once knew this therapy and used it. The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese used cupping therapy. The oldest recorded medical textbook, Ebers Papyrus, written in approximately 1550 BCE in Egypt mentions cupping (Curtis, 2005). In the UK the practice of Cupping Therapy also dates back a long way with one of the leading medical journals The Lancet being named after this practice as it means the surgical instrument that can scrape the skin to do cupping.
Types of Cupping
There are various types of cupping such as:
* Light Cupping – Uses a weak suction in the cup to do light cupping, it is suitable for children and elderly people.
* Medium Cupping – A medium strength, general purpose cupping.
* Strong Cupping – Suction will be great and therefore it is not suitable for children and elderly people.
* Moving Cupping or Massage Cupping – This is a great method of massage and is done by applying oil to the skin and moving the cup, by a weak suction, on the area to be treated.
* Needle Cupping – Acupuncture and cupping are done in the same place by applying the needle first; then the cup is applied over it
* Hot Cupping – Dried Mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) leaves, sometimes called by its oriental name Moxa, is a great warming herb. A needle is used, warmed by Dried Mugwort; then the cup is applied over it.
* Flash Cupping – This is a term used to describe the practice when several medium cuppings are preformed several times in quick succession along the area being treated to stimulate it.
* Bleeding Cupping – Also called Full Cupping or Wet Cupping, it is the most frequently used, oldest and often the most effective method. A surgical instrument is used to scrape the skin and the cup is then applied to collect blood.
* Herbal Cupping – A suitable herbal tincture is put into the cup and then suction is applied.
* Water Cupping – This is the least practiced method. It involves filling a third of the cup with warm water. Whilst holding the cup close to the client with one hand, it is brought to the point to be cupped and then burning cotton wool is inserted into the cup, then swiftly and simultaneously the cup is turned onto the skin. When performed properly, no water spillage occurs.
Conditions Which Can Benefit From Cupping
Conditions which can benefit from cupping include headache, upper back pain, lower back pain, joint and muscular pain, infertility, sexual disorders, rheumatic diseases, hypertension, breast enhancement, bed wetting, common colds and flu, insomnia, stroke, fever, constipation and diarrhea, chest pain, asthma and blood disorders.
Applying Cupping on Acupuncture Points
In the Journal of Biomechanics (2005), researchers L. M. Thama, H. P. Leea, and C. Lua state that “Cupping is known to be an effective alternative to needles in stimulating acupoints in acupuncture treatment.
Therefore we can use cupping as an alternative to acupuncture, or in conjunction with it. Many researchers have investigated and demonstrated the benefits of cupping and I think that it will be the most used alternative medical practice very soon.
1) Cupping: From a biomechanical perspective by L.M. Thama, H.P. Leea,b,_, C. Lua (Journal of Biomechanics) June 2005 (http://www.elsevier.com/locate/jbiomech)
2) Cupping by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon (http://www.itmonline.org/arts/cupping.htm)
3) Ancient Chinese Technique of Cupping Offers Pain Relief Without Drugs or Surgery
4) Massage Cupping Therapy for Health Care Professionals By Anita J. Shannon, LMBT
5) Cupping Therapy/ by Ilkay Zihni Chirali (http://www.cuppingtherapy.co.uk/19103.html)
6) What Caused Gwyneth’s Spots (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/3879447.stm)