Chinese Cupping Therapy
A safe, fast-acting treatment that can be used alone or in conjunction with other drug-free complementary therapies
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Cupping Therapy is a treatment said to have originated in ancient Egypt. It is still popular throughout Asia, the Middle East, and Finland and increasingly so elsewhere.
At Body in Balance Clinic, I use “Dry” or “Bloodless” Cupping, also known as Fire Cupping. The glass suction cup is held over a flame in such a way that the air in it is heated, lowering its internal pressure. The cup is immediately placed on the treatment area on the body. As the heated air rapidly cools down, it creates a vacuum inside the cup that sucks the skin into the cup and so makes it “stick” to the body. Clients report that it can feel like a pulling sensation at the skin and muscle layer that results in a tight feeling under the cups. The first few minutes can be rather intense.
Cupping massage has a much stronger effect on blood circulation than regular massage and blood immediately rushes to the area, creating a painless bruise due to vasodilation. The cups are kept on for a maximum of ten minutes and I check them frequently. The more severe or chronic an issue, the deeper the colour and the longer the marks stay with you. An area with poor Qi flow (the most significant amount of stagnation) will have the deepest amount of colour. Moderate Qi flow blockages cause the skin to become pink or red and generally take only a day or two for the colour to fade away. Severe stagnation will produce a deep scarlet, purple or even black discoloration which may take seven to ten days for the dark colour to disperse. The bruises are usually painless but are visible when the cup is removed and may remain on the body for a couple of days before they begin to fade away.
One variation is cupping massage or “moving cupping” when the suction cup is place on oiled skin and then moved around across a certain area. Another is “flash” cupping when the cups are applied and quickly popped off again.
The effects of cupping therapy are varied. Some clients feel a “pleasant tiredness” immediately afterwards. Most experience rapid pain relief from muscle tension and cramp which can help to promote better sleep. Some report that it increases connective tissue mobility due, perhaps, to the breakdown of scar tissue that can inhibit motion.