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About Cupping

Cupping is the creation of a localized vacuum over the skin on specific areas of the body to remove toxins, increase blood flow, remove pain, stimulates the immune system and promotes healing.  Cupping should be painless and most people enjoy the sensation of being cupped aside from it’s other health benefits.

The most common form of cupping is called fire cupping, and involves the removal of oxygen inside of a glass cup by briefly placing a burning cotton ball inside before it is removed and placed on the patients body. Glass cups range in a variety of sizes and shapes to accommodate both the area they are being used on and the size of the patient.

glass cups

Other forms of cupping utilize manual suction methods by using a hand pump to remove the air from the inside of the cup to produce the local vacuum.  These cups are often light-weight and made of plastic and include a valve to release the suction when the treatment is completed.  Because this method does not require the use of a flame, theses cups come in a wider variety of sizes, with smaller cups being available for use on the face where fire cupping would not be possible.

Cups can be placed over specific parts of the body and retained for 10-15 minutes depending on the patient’s needs.  Cups are often placed over acupuncture points to stimulate them.  This is especially common in respiratory issues or colds & flu’s where the cups are placed over points for the lungs and retained.  This retention of the cups to stimulate a point can be enhanced by placing the cups over an acupuncture needle called needle cupping or the use of a technique called bleeding cupping in which a lancet is used to draw blood on an acupuncture point and then cups are placed over the area to increase the amount of blood flow.  Bleeding cupping is often used for severe pain, certain skin conditions like shingles, and allergic reactions.

Cups can also be used over a large area of the body in a method called sliding cupping.  In this technique, an oil or linament is applied to the area of the body to be worked on and then the cup placed on the body.  The suction on the body combined with the lubrication of the oil allows the cups to be slid over an area, pulling up the tissue and increasing circulation over a broader area.  This is a wonderful technique for back pain and most patients enjoy the sensation of sliding cupping.  This can also be used on the lateral leg along a muscle and tendon grouping called the IT band for people who experience a pain and tightness along the outside of their legs.

Because cupping creates a local vacuum over the skin, pulling more blood to the area and increasing circulation, the skin will briefly appear raised and discolored, often resembling a bruise.  This discoloration is normal and will disappear in a few days.

Glass CuppingIn a similar way to other therapies utilized in traditional Chinese medicine, Cupping can be used as a stand-alone treatment or combined as with an acupuncture treatment to enhance the effectiveness of the treatment.

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