(Chinese: 拔罐; pinyin: bá guàn)
Cupping is a traditional form of healing that has been practiced for thousands of years in various cultures worldwide. Hippocrates was a fan way back in 400 BC. The adherence of bamboo, glass or silicone cups to the body is generated using fire or suction to create a vacuum. This encourages blood circulation, helps regulate body functions, stimulates the body's own defense and healing mechanisms, promotes muscle recovery, and supports general health and wellness.
The cups can and do leave circles or lines of ruptured capillaries. They differ from a bruise and are considered part of the therapeutic process. The pink, red or purple spots disappear in about two to ten days, depending on the length of retention, darkness of the splotches, and the individual speed of healing. Some people do not get marks at all. On the extreme end, the marks are so dark, they're almost black, and can even last a month. These "hickies" are used diagnostically by your therapist and provide valuable information about your health. Much in thanks to Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps, lovely starlet Gwyneth Paltrow, and Super Bowl linebacker James Harrison, and the ever beloved Justin Bieber, cupping is growing in popularity. Most people are not worried about the temporary blotches and are often happy to report what wonderful conversation starters they can be.
Cupping therapy is indicated for muscle pain, nerve pain, insomnia, digestive and gastro-intestinal disorders, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and gynecological disorders. It's also excellent for detoxification. For tight, tense, sore muscles, it has been said that cupping can do in ten minutes what massage can do in an hour.
Our clinic features the traditional Chinese fire cupping. A cotton ball is lit on fire and quickly sweeps the inside of the glass cup. The method doesn't really heat the vessel; it simply removes the oxygen to create a vacuum to adhere to the skin. Cups are retained in one spot for 0-15 minutes, depending. Sliding, or "gliding", the cups along the meridians is also performed. The general consensus is that this feels heavenly.
Children love cupping! And it is completely safe, if you're in the hands of an experienced therapist. There is even a specific protocol for kids, called "flash cupping". While sometimes it is appropriate and unavoidable to leave cupping marks on the young ones, flash cupping generally does not. The technique requires the cups only stay in place for a moment and then are popped off and moved to another location. The kids (and sometimes the adults) laugh at the popping, slurping, snapping sound the cups make. Pediatric cupping is beneficial for asthma, colds, flus, fevers, infections, ADHD, other mental-emotional concerns, as well as general relaxation and stress relief. Yes, youngsters get stressed too.
There are times when cupping is not indicated. We don't cup the low back, abdomen, or legs during pregnancy. Fragile constitutions are not cupped, so babies and geriatric patients receive other forms of care. Cupping is not done over open sores or fresh injuries. Extreme care is used to select safe and appropriate treatments.
Cupping can be performed as a stand-alone treatment or combined with bodywork, acupuncture, or stone healing.
One Medicine offers cupping sessions that include sliding and stationary cupping, light bodywork, and aromatherapy, as applicable. Although a standard session focuses on the back, treatments are easily tailored for specific ailments. This is a wonderful way to prevent or cope with acute illness and distress, including pain, the common cold, influenza, seasonal allergies, and stress, benefitting mental health.
Acupuncture appointments automatically include cupping, if cupping is indicated for your body and your health goal. We often use multiple modalities in tandem for the best possible outcome. Each session is based on need and the modalities used will be personalized to the individual. There are times when cupping is not appropriate for a certain person or a certain condition. Your therapist will communicate what is and isn't indicated for your particular area of concern.