What is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping therapy is a method which has been in used since traditional time, in which a therapist puts special cups on the skin for a few minutes to create suction. The suction helps promote healing by improving the blood flow.
Cupping helps improve the blood flow to the area where the cups are placed which relieves muscle tension.
It can be used for numerous purposes such as to help with pain and inflammation, blood flow, relaxation, and promotes well being.
Types of Cupping
The cups used in cupping therapy are made of glass, bamboo, earthenware, and silicone.
In earlier times it was performed using animal horns. The suction was created using heat.
The two main cupping methods performed today are:
- Dry cupping, which is a suction-only method.
- Wet cupping, which involves both suction and controlled medicinal bleeding.
The type of method is chosen according to the medical condition and preference of an individual.
How Is Cupping Therapy Performed?
- During the procedure, a cup is placed on the skin. It is heated off and suctioned into the skin. The cup is heated with fire using alcohol, herb or placing a paper directly into the cup.
- Fire is removed and the open side of the cup is placed directly on the skin. Some practitioners used rubber pumps to create vacuum instead of heat.
- If dry cupping method is used, the cup is placed for a set time which is usually 5-10 minutes. In wet cupping, the cup is placed only for few minutes and then is removed and an incision is done to draw blood.
- In the first session, 3-5 cups are placed.
- After the cups are removed the area is covered with ointments, antibiotics, and bandages to prevent infection. Mild bruising occurs, which fades away within 10 days after a session.
- 2-3 hour before the cupping session the person is advised to eat light meals only. Wet cupping is thought to remove harmful substances and toxins from the body and promotes healing.
Health Conditions Treated With Cupping Therapy
Cupping is used to treat numerous health conditions and is particularly effective in easing conditions which create muscle aches and pains.
Cups can be placed on major acupressure points and prove to be effective in treating digestive issues, skin problems and other condition treated with acupressure.
A study shows its effectiveness more than just a placebo effect (1). It is found useful in the following conditions:
Side Effects Of Cupping Therapy
There are no serious effects noted after cupping therapy.
Few side effects might occur immediately after the cupping therapy procedure is done such as: Dizzy feeling, sweating, nausea or lightheadedness.
After the treatment is performed, the skin around the rim of the cup might feel irritated in a marked circular pattern. There might be pain at the incision site.
There is a risk of infection after undergoing cupping therapy. It can be avoided if the practitioner follows the right method, and cleans the skin before and after the procedure.
Other risks include scarring and hematoma:
The practitioner should follow basic measure such as wear an apron, use disposable gloves, and eye protection. Clean equipment and regular vaccines should be ensured to protect against diseases like hepatitis.
Any side effect if noted should be informed to the practitioner as he may offer some other remedies or steps before the next session.
Cupping therapy is not recommended for everyone. Children below 4 years, elderly people, pregnant females and those menstruating should not be given this therapy.
Do not go ahead with cupping if using blood-thinning medications, suffering from sunburn, a wound, a skin ulcer or experienced recent trauma.
Always speak with your doctor before going ahead with the procedure. Ensure the practitioner is experienced and well-trained. This helps reduce the chances of side effects.