You've seen it before - these red, mysterious, circular marks on the backs of celebrities and maybe even your friends. Now you're acupuncturist has just broken out the glass cups and its not to suggest a toast. When the fire cups come out, its most likely because something in your tongue, pulse, or presentation clues your acupuncturist into stagnation that's present in your body.
WHAT IS CUPPING?
Fire cupping is a form of traditional medicine found in many cultures around the world. The earliest record of cupping is in Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world. It describes that in 1,550 BC, Egyptians used cupping. Archaeologists have found evidence in China of cupping dating back to 1,000 BC.
In traditional Chinese medicine(TCM), cupping is performed by creating a vacuum on the patient’s skin. The low air pressure required to form a suction may be created by heating the air inside it with an open flame or a gentle suction pump. With an open flame, as the air inside the cup cools, it contracts and draws the skin slightly inside. Cups are normally used only on softer tissue that can form a good seal with the edge of the cup. They may be used singly or in large number to cover a larger area. They may be used by themselves or placed over an acupuncture needle. Skin may be lubricated, allowing the cup to be moved and slide.
WHY IS IT USED?
The therapy is used to dispel stagnation, stagnant blood and lymph, thereby improving qi flow. Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture but it can also be used alone. The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system. Cupping can be used to relieve back and neck pain, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulitis.
IS IT SAFE?
While cupping is considered relatively safe, it can cause some swelling and the appearance of bruising on the skin. As the skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand. This may result in small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises are usually painless and disappear within a few days of treatment.