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Cupping is a therapeutic technique used in conjunction with acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion and Chinese herbal medicine. It is one of the common practices in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Cupping was created as a body treatment by ancient Chinese people nearly 3,000 years ago; it improves circulation by bringing fresh blood to the outer layer of the skin. The theory behind it is to dispel "stagnation" and then regulate the flow of qi and blood. Meridians are the body’s conduits that disperse energy throughout the entire body, passing through every organ and tissue.

There are five major meridians on the back that are used for cupping treatment. Some specific meridians and acupuncture points can be found on the neck, chest, abdomen, buttocks and limbs as well. When the meridians are open, invigorating energy freely travels throughout the body allowing for the healing to begin. Each cupping session is about 10 to 20 minutes. When the skin is sucked up, it causes blood to rise without any risk for a painful reaction. Patients will simply feel as if someone is pulling at their skin. After the treatment, circular marks may be left on the skin where the cups were placed, which then subside after a day or two. The principle of cupping is to improve circulation, drain excess fluids and toxins, loosen adhesions, lift connective tissue, bring blood flow to the stagnant skin and muscles and stimulate the peripheral nervous system. Since cupping acts like a deep tissue massage, it has been found that its affects can impact tissues up to four inches deep. This allows tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, arteries and capillaries, activate skin function, clear stretch marks, improve varicose veins and clear colon blockages which help in the activation and clearing of veins. This is why patients feel so at ease after cupping treatment.

Studies suggest that cupping can be beneficial for respiratory illnesses such as the common cold, asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis. The digestive system can benefit as well as it can help with Crohn’s disease, colitis, sensitive bowl syndrome, indigestion, malnourishment and eating disorders. Musculoskeletal pains such as neurogenic pain, menstrual cramp, chronic fatigue syndrome, and so on can also benefit from cupping.

Characteristics and Specialties

1. Fire Cupping The practitioner holds the cup inverted over a flame ignited with a 99% alcohol-soaked cotton swab, heats the air and places the cup immediately against the skin. This creates a vacuum due to the loss of oxygen which causes the fire to go out. Then the skin rises as it is sucked up under the cup which ultimately rushes the blood to the surface of the skin. Fire Cupping is a traditional technique. The benefit of the treatment is the stronger production of acupressure due to the cup being sealed tight.

2. Suction Cupping A cup with a suction mechanism has been developed and become a popular choice. The practitioner places the cup against the skin, pumps the air out of the cup with a hand pump; therefore a vacuum is created by negative pressure, and the skin gets sucked up and rises under the cup along with an upward blood rush. Suction cupping has been widely used because it is so easy and manageable and is very safe for all ages including children.

3. Sliding cupping In order to enhance the healing result, practitioners use liniments, analgesics, plant hydrosols or essential oils while cupping. With the skin lubricated the practitioner slides the adhered cup along the meridians or encircles the troublesome region. This movement stimulates the stagnating skin, stubborn knots and areas of rigid tissue. The skin will therefore turn reddish, indicating that the circulation has been brought to the skins surface. Furthermore, the absorption of the medicinal medium deepens into the tissue, causing the blood supply to increase within the muscles and skin as the toxins are carried away via the veins. Patients will feel a deep warming sensation, relaxed and relieved right after the treatment has ended. The only downside of sliding cupping is it should not be used on protruding moles, skin tags, and scabs.

4. Flash cupping . Adapted to the muscles are more relaxed, not tight or suction pulling cans have difficulty leaving office, as well as local skin numbness or dysfunction deficiency patients. Methods of operation are: on the jar immediately after pulling off so many times repeated suction pulling to skin flushing so far. It should be noted they use a flash tank cupping method, and used tanks should not be too large. There are always cupping marks or bruises left on the skin and it is not uncommon that some small blisters may appear after cupping due to it being a healing process. The skin will absorb the effects of the cupping treatment and recover naturally in several days. Practitioners have proper follow ups should patients has any blister concerns.