Chinese medicine cupping is an ancient healing therapy dated way back to 3000 years ago, where it was documented as the recommended therapy for pulmonary tuberculosis. Cupping is performed by placing suction glass cups on the skin of patients, particularly on the back, shoulder, legs and arms. The suction is created by way of first placing, and then withdrawing, a lit up flammable substance such as an alcohol swab into glass cups. The cups are then placed upside down on the skin and left for up to 10 minutes. The suction and negative pressure created by the vacuum draw the superficial muscle layer into the cup, causing redness and improved blood circulation to cupped body areas.
Cupping can either be used as a standalone therapy, or combined with acupuncture treatment to enhance healing effect. The therapy can be applied to achieve various treatment objectives.
- When cups are placed in the region of a particular muscle group, the pressure and increased blood flow help in loosening muscles and sedating the nervous system. Applied this way the cups are efficient in relieving pain in the head, back, neck and shoulder, lowering blood pressure and calming anxiety.
- Cups are also placed on acupuncture points located along the urinary bladder meridian lines traversing the back of the body. Applied this way the cups help in the treatment of specific illnesses, by releasing toxin from deeper tissues and unblocking the energy flow of internal organs. Cupping therapy is particularly effective in releasing congestion in the respiratory system, and commonly used together with acupuncture therapy in the treatment of common cold and chronic asthma.