Is a part of Oriental medicine, it is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin. Once the suction has occurred (with the use of heat), the cups can be gently moved across the skin. The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping is much like the inverse of massage – rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes.
Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture in one treatment, but it can also be used alone. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite. This treatment is also valuable for the lungs, and can clear congestion from a common cold or help to control a person’s asthma. In fact, respiratory conditions are one of the most common maladies that cupping is used to relieve. Three thousand years ago, in the earliest Chinese documentation of cupping, it was recommended for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.
Like acupuncture, cupping follows the lines of the meridians. There are five meridian lines on one’s back and these are where the cups are usually placed. Using these points, cupping can help to align and relax qi, as well as target more specific maladies.
While the history of Cupping (wet cupping) may date back thousands of years, the first documented uses are found in the teachings of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. It is reported that the the prophet said, “Indeed the best of remedies you have is cupping, and if there was something excellent to be used as a remedy then it is cupping.”
A number of hadith support its recommendation and use by Muhammad. As a result, the practice of cupping therapy has survived in Muslim countries. Today, wet cupping is a popular remedy practiced in many parts of the world.
The mouth of a cup is placed on the skin at the site chosen for cupping. Then a tight seal is created. The traditional method is to burn a small piece of paper or cotton inside the vessel, so that the mouth of the cup clings to the skin. The cup is left to cling to the skin for a few minutes, then it is lifted off and several very small incisions are made in the skin. The cup is then put back as it was before until the flow of blood subsides.
The strengthening and stimulating effects of cupping make it successful in treating the following conditions: fatigue, period pain, constipation and diarrhea, headaches, back pain, arthritis, injuries, asthma, anemia, depression and emotional problems, atrophy, sciatica, common cold and flu, skin problems, emotional problems, depression and much more.