Cupping is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine to influence the body's energy system. The aim is to release blockages by stimulating the back in a very precise and targeted way. The therapy is said to reduce inflammation and pain. As well as being used to treat tension, it's also used for conditions such as headaches, slipped discs, infectious diseases, asthma and digestive problems. The intense suction effect is supposed to draw toxins and other harmful substances out of the body.
Here's how it goes:
The therapist places a special cup on your skin and makes it stick by suction. In the traditional method this is done by holding wads of burning cotton wool in the glass cup before placing it on the skin. When the air in the cup cools, it creates a vacuum that makes the cup stick to your skin. There are different methods used to treat different conditions:
The usual form is dry cupping. This often leaves the patient with circular red patches, bruises and minor haemorrhaging of the skin. Dry cupping is frequently used to treat or prevent chronic conditions.
Empty cupping is the gentlest version, especially suitable for children and older people because the cups are only applied for a very short time. This method is particularly good for treating tension or colds.
Cup head massage
The therapist rubs the skin with oil before massaging it with a cup. This is designed to stimulate the circulation and metabolism, reduce muscle tension and boost the immune system.
Full (bleeding) cupping
This method of cupping involves drawing blood. Before the cup is applied, a small incision is made in the skin with a needle or scalpel. It's good for acute pain, high blood pressure, acne, conditions of the nervous system, lung conditions such as bronchitis, and back or neck pain.
Cupping is not appropriate for pregnant women, old or weak people, or those with skin conditions. Cups shouldn't be applied to areas of the skin with scars, birth marks or wounds.