Cupping May Be Trendy, But It’s Not New

Although everyone’s been talking about cupping lately, thanks to the round purplish spots swimmer Michael Phelps sported last week at the Rio Olympics, it’s nothing new. Cupping, a therapy familiar to Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, was used in ancient Greek, Egyptian and Middle Eastern cultures.

What is Cupping?

In cupping, special cups made from glass, silicone, or bamboo are applied on different parts of the body by creating a form of suction via a flame or a pump. There are three different types of cupping: dry cupping, which is the most popular technique, moving cupping (which involves applying massage oil so the cups can glide over the affected area), and wet cupping (which involves drawing a patient’s blood with the cups after a small incision has been made).

Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners use cupping to help mobilize blood flow to tissue and lymph, thereby improving Qi (energy) flow, pulling out toxins, and treating respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia, and bronchitis. Many people in Western medicine use cupping as a part of soft tissue therapy and treatment.

Personally, I have had a lot of success using cupping — especially as a soft-tissue modality for lymphatic issues, soft-tissue injuries, aches, and pain. I’ve also had success using cupping to reduce stress and respiratory diseases in my clients.

Benefits of Cupping

The health benefits of cupping, as I’ve experienced them, are many. Here is a list of some conditions cupping can help alleviate:

  • Reduces stress
  • Decreases muscle ache
  • Helps sedate the nervous system
  • Decreases joint pain
  • Helps fight allergies
  • Improves digestive disorders
  • Improves colds
  • Lessens anxiety
  • Improves skin conditions
  • Reduces fever
  • Helps with cellulite
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