The cupping method is a wonderful component of Chinese medicine that has also been used by indigenous cultures worldwide. It’s both diagnostic as well as therapeutic. The therapeutic benefits of cupping include the promotion of the free flow of qi and blood in the meridians, thereby dispelling “evil qi” caused by wind, cold, heat, or dampness. In the modern clinic Bi syndrome, a Chinese term that is descriptive for these various pain syndromes can be experienced almost anywhere in the body, such as, in the low back, shoulders, and legs. Cupping is also used for more systemic issues that impact other organ systems such as the respiratory system, gastrointestinal system, etc. The ailments or symptoms when there is a need for cupping can then be translated into many diagnostic codes involving various organs, and pain syndromes that can be either chronic and acute. Cupping can also tell us where the most congested area is located due to the various coloration that occur locally, such as, no color change, pink, red, blue, and purple, hence, the most colorful area can indicate where the most congestion is and the color can reflect whether it’s more inflamed versus stagnate energy.
The Ancient Art of Cupping is a method that traces back to what was called “the horned method” where by animal horns were used to dispel pus. With the passing of time as materials for making jars evolved, the range of indications for using this method expanded due to the simplicity of the method and the positive benefits that were obtained. The cupping method today has advanced even further; however, the fundamental technique is similar.
Various types of materials as well as jar sizes can be used such as, bamboo, glass, and plastic, if using the modern suction pump method. The more traditional technique utilizes the “fire cup method”. This always appears to be a magic act of some kind and can also be seen in old vampire movies. This technique involves saturating a cotton ball with alcohol while holding it with forceps, lighting the cotton and then placing it under the cup, and then placing the jar onto the skin which creates a vacuum that suctions the cup to the skin. I prefer to use the more modern suction pump technique thereby eliminating the risk of burns or other mishaps.
These primary benefits are accomplished by the simple technique that communicates with our physiology. Toxic buildup or the accumulation of acidic waste occurs as a byproduct of our cell signaling process whereby the cells use oxygen and give off carbon dioxide. When the energy is congested the cell waste or carbon dioxide gets blocked. This becomes an acidic or more toxic state due to the accumulations. The deeper tissues are impacted which can result in physical pain, or other symptoms associated with where the stagnation is located. These symptoms communicate and reflect the blockage in the flow of energy through a particular area. When toxins and wastes stagnate in the muscles or joints, for example, it’s a challenge for the body to eliminate them and further blockage often results. Cupping allows us to suction the stagnation out of the deeper tissue and move it to the surface of the skin where it’s much easier for the body to eliminate toxins through enhancing and mobilizing the circulation. Often if there is localized pain, the person can experience varying degrees of relief right away. Cupping can also be combined with other modalities when deemed appropriate.
An informed recipient of cupping should also be aware that after a cupping session, it will often result in discolorations of the skin that is a form of blood stasis or a bruise at the local area. Generally the discolorations will disappear after a few days. There can also be small blisters after a cupping session and these are commonly reabsorbed by the body naturally after a few days. Very occasionally there can be larger blisters that can occur and your practitioner will know how to treat this scenario and this too will resolve after a few days.