Cupping is a therapy in which a negative pressure created through a cup that is applied on the body surface to help remove stagnation and toxins, to promote free flow and Qi and blood, diminishing swelling and pain.
History of Cupping Therapy
Cupping has been used as a therapeutic approach over 5000 years in China. Originally cattle horns were used for such a treatment, therefore Cupping therapy was also called “Horn Therapy”. People used cupping to treat all sort of pains, cold, chronic cough, etc. Cupping therapy also were used to suck blood and pus out for treating boils, or poison for snake bite.
Cupping had been used to treat disease in other part of the world a few thousand years ago as well. In 1550 BC, people in Egypt were using cupping for bleeding or other diseases as well as preserve health. In Greece, there are still some people use cupping to treat cold (with blood letting afterwards to get toxins out from the body).
Types of Cupping Therapy and Indications
There are different types of cups. The most commonly used are glass cups and bamboo cups. There are also different methods of cupping therapy:
Mobile (moving) cupping:
Massage oil is applied on the surface of the body before cupping. The practitioner attaches the cups on the surface and move cup up and down along meridian or muscle until skin color turns to fresh red or purplish dark.
This method is commonly used for acute febrile disease or muscle pain, atrophy and numbness caused by qi and blood stagnation on deep region of tissues.
Stationary (retaining) cupping:
Generally there is no oil used before doing cupping. The cups are applied on specific fixed points or area. It is normally to retain cup on the skin surface for 5 ~ 10 minutes. After withdrawing cups, there are usually red color skin marks for mild stimulation or purplish dark for heavy stimulation, which will disappear automatically a few days later.
This method is commonly used for internal diseases and injury on deep tissues such as digestive diseases, cardiac vascular diseases, gynecological diseases, diseases on the joints of neck, shoulder, lumbar vertebrae and legs.
After exhausting air in the cup with fire, cup is attached on the skin surface, then quickly withdrawn, repeat this step for 30 to 50 times until there is red color on the place of cupping and patient feels warming sensation. This technique can get good function to promote blood circulation.
This method is commonly used for invasion of external cold and wind, muscle atrophy, numbness and sequela of wind-stroke.