All you need to know about cupping

If gossip columns are to be believed then cupping is a traditional therapy which has been used and promoted by the likes of Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham and tennis star Andy Murray. There have been rave reviews about cupping and now you must be wondering what this new fad is all about?


Well, if you are a person who is open to new ideas and experiences and better health tops your priority list then cupping is something you must try. A Chinese technique, cupping is a traditional form of alternative medicine which involves the use of heated cups which are placed on the skin and improve blood flow in the body by a suction action.

What is cupping?
Cupping can very well be described as a process which is inverse of massage. The pressure s not applied on the muscles or other body parts but instead suction is applied which can lift skin, tissue and muscles upwards. An ancient therapy whose technique has seen an up gradation and modernization over the years but the basic principle still remains the same.

How is it done?
Glass, bamboo or plastic jars are used in cupping which is placed on the skin, suction is created and the underlying tissue is raised. Depending on the client’s problem, location of the problem and his/her comfort level, the cups are either moved around or left in one place on the body. The time for which the cups are left on the body is also dependent on the practitioner’s assessment of the problem. Multiple therapy sessions are needed for result and each day the treatment follows a specific plan or routine. The cupping sessions are customized and unique to different individuals. The cups are most frequently used on the back of the body. It is also helpful in providing benefits to other fleshy parts of the body.

The cups are left in place for 5 to 10 minutes depending on the specific condition being treated. One or many cups can be sued simultaneously on the body and sometimes certain medicated or herbal oils are also applied on the body just before the cupping session is started. The most common places where cupping is done are the back and stomach or other fleshy sites on the body.

How does cupping work?
In a cupping session, glass cups are warmed with the help of a cotton ball or other flammable substance soaked in alcohol which is then placed within the cup. When a substance is burnt inside the cup, the entire oxygen is removed from inside thereby creating a vacuum within.

As the substance burns, the cup is placed on a specific region of the body turned upside down. The cup holds on to the skin through the lack of oxygen and with the cooling of the air the skin within is pulled upwards. This helps in opening the pores on the skin, stimulating the blood flow, equilibrating the flow of energy, breaking up obstructions and detoxifying the toxins from the system.

How is cupping experience?
In the area of the body where the cup is placed, there is generally a tight sensation. This tight sensation is relaxing and smoothing in nature.

Health benefits of cupping
The main aim of a cupping session traditionally was to treat conditions ro ailments associated with respiratory system such as bronchitis, asthma, or congestion. Cupping is also used for many other benefits such as;
1. Treatment of arthritis
2. Treatment of gastrointestinal disorder
3. Pain
4. Treat depression
5. Reduce swelling

Added to these, cupping therapy can also treat a plethora of other conditions which has been recommended by the British cupping Society as well, these include treatment of blood problems such as anaemia, haemophilia(bleeding disorder), fertility or other gynaecological problems, skin problems such as eczema and acne, high blood pressure, migraine, anxiety, allergies and varicose veins.

Added to this, the prime reason that anyone should go for cupping is that it leads to a mental and physical relaxation and overall well-being. It can also reduce any pain or inflammation present throughout the body.

Types of cupping
The cupping technique we have been talking about so far is known as ‘dry cupping’ and is the traditional form. There are more than two variants available which is known as ‘wet’ or ‘air’ cupping.
In wet cupping, skin is punctured just before the treatment is initiated. When the cup s applied and the skin is pulled up, some blood is also suctioned in the cup which is believed to draw out the toxins and other body waste.
In air cupping, when the cup is applied to skin, a suction pump is attached to the rounded end of the jar which then creates vacuum within the cup.

Is it safe?
Cupping is a relatively safe procedure. Sometimes it may cause swelling and bruising on the skin which is due to expansion of the blood vessels at the skin surface within the cup when it is being pulled upwards. The small, circular bruises which may appear on the skin where the cups are applied are mostly painless and disappear in some time.

Are there any side effects?
Cupping may sometimes lead to temporary or transient discoloration of the skin. The skin may turn blue, red or purple especially in those regions where there has been a previous injury or blockade of energy. The skin discoloration may be present from few days to few weeks but in most of the cases it is not painful. The procedure is repeated only when the previous marks have been removed.

Some people may experience mild discomfort or develop skin infections. People with bone fractures or those experiencing spasms of muscles should not go for cupping therapy.

Who can get it done?
Anybody can get a cupping session done. If you have certain conditions such as inflamed skin, high fever, convulsions, or of you bleed easily then you are not a suitable candidate for cupping. Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back.

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