What is Cupping and how can it benefit me?

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Fire Cupping treatment

If you watched the summer Olympics last year, you probably noticed the large circular marks on the US swim team. These marks are from a treatment called cupping.
(Could you please ask your designer to pull a royalty free stock photo of a swimmer with cupping marks. Similar to this picture.)
What is cupping?
Cupping is a treatment that causes local congestion to an area on the skin. It is used to warm and promote movement in the acupuncture channels. It also reduces swelling, inflammation, and relieves pain. Glass or plastic cups are the most common types used today.

Does it hurt?
Cupping rarely causes pain. It is normal to feel a little tightness when the cups are applied or to feel slightly sore the next day. Most people will develop cupping marks that will fade naturally within a couple days. Some people will feel pain relief immediately, while others feel the effects the day after.
The History of Cupping.

There is evidence of cupping therapy used in ancient cultures all over the world. The Egyptian document, Ebers Papyrus from about 1550 BCE, discusses cupping therapy as a treatment for medical ailments. The earliest recording of cupping in China was from the book, A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies, by Ge Hong (281-341). In this book, animal horns were used as suction therapy to drain pustules. Later, during the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), cupping was used for treating a condition similar to tuberculosis. Horns, shells and bones have been discovered dating back to around 3,000 years old that were used for cupping

Types of Cupping I do.
Cupping is an additional method of treatment used by acupuncturists. When used properly, it enhances your acupuncture treatment.

When cupping is indicated, I use glass fire cupping for treatments on the back and thighs. Fire cupping uses a flame to create the vacuum inside the cup. The flame heats the cup to create a gentle warm sensation on the skin. It has been described as a deep feeling of warmth and pain relief

I often do a combination of retention, flash, and slide cupping for ailments of the back and thighs. Retention cupping is common on smaller areas of the body, like around the knee joint or the upper part of the back. The cup is placed on the area and left for 5 to 10 minutes or until the desired affect is achieved.

Flash cupping is a method of placing the cup on the skin, immediately removing the cup, then repeating multiple times over the same area. This is utilized when the area has become weak or has local numbness.
Slide cupping uses a liniment or oil on the skin. Once the cup is placed, it is moved over an area of the body, following the direction of the muscle fibers, until the skin becomes slightly red.

Occasionally I will use plastic cups on the arms, chest, and lower legs. This method uses a hand pump attachment that creates the vacuum in the cups. This allows me to get to smaller areas of the body that need cupping in addition to acupuncture.

Cupping is extremely effective in promoting circulation, warming the channels and removing toxins. I also will use cupping for lung and stomach issues. Each person’s situation is unique and we will create a treatment plan that is specific to your needs.
Cupping aftercare.

To achieve optimum results, remember these two things:

  1. Stay hydrated after cupping. The therapy increases circulation and moves toxins out of the area. Drinking a lot of water, at least half your body weight in ounces, will help your body detox faster.
  2. Keep the area that was cupped covered when going outside or in cooler areas. This prevents you from getting sick.
    Why you would choose Traditional Chinese Medicine Cupping.

I have had success incorporating cupping with acupuncture in people who suffer from stagnant upper back pain, acute pain with taking on a new exercise regiment, and elite athlete recovery. I have also successfully utilized cupping for sore throats, chronic lung issues, and emotional pain. When you come in for your appointment, you will have customized treatments specific for you and what you are experiencing. We will come up with a treatment plan to help you achieve your health goals.

Alyssa Kuge Frain, MSAOM, L.Ac.

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