Cupping therapy can be traced back to ancient Chinese, Egyptian and Middle Eastern cultures. The technique is even described in one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, which means ancient Egyptians may have been using cupping therapy as early as 1,550 B.C.
In cupping therapy, the therapist places cups (which can be made of glass, plastic, or silicone) on the skin and applies suction, which draws the tissue into the cups.
There are two main methods we use at Balanced Life Health Care;
Cup Placement: Once the vacuum is created, the cups are quickly placed on specific areas of the body. The therapist may use multiple cups and position them along meridian lines or over specific acupressure points, depending on the desired treatment goals.
Suction and Treatment Duration: The cups can remain in place for a few minutes to up to 15 minutes, depending on the therapist’s assessment and the patient’s tolerance. The suction created by the cups pulls the skin and underlying tissues upward, promoting increased blood flow to the area.
Cup Removal: To remove the cups, the therapist typically releases the vacuum by gently pressing down on the skin near the edge of the cup. This breaks the seal and allows the cup to be lifted off without causing discomfort.
Cupping will often cause raised reddish circular marks that are generally painless and usually go away after 7 to 10 days.
From a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, the marks left by the cups can be an indication of what is occurring in the muscles.
Excess dampness – Accumulated fluids in the tissues or superficial oedema.
Qi and blood deficiency – Not enough blood flow into the muscle, can occur in iron deficiency
Moderate to Severe stagnation – The muscles are tense restricting blood flow through an area
Toxin Accumulation – More inflammation in the tissue
An old Chinese maxim says that “Where there’s stagnation, there will be pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.” At Balanced Life Health Care, we primarily use as an adjunct to Acupuncture to stretch myofascial tissues, as a result lifting and separating muscle fibres. It can soften tight muscles and tone attachments of muscle to bone, loosen adhesions within the muscle and lift connective tissue. It brings hydration and blood flow to soft tissues, moves deep inflammation to the skin surface for release, and drains excess fluids and toxins by opening lymphatic pathways making it a perfect combination Acupuncture.
Cupping works through several mechanisms:
Increased Blood Flow: The suction effect of the cups draws blood to the treated area, which may promote healing and reduce muscle tension.
Myofascial Release: Cupping can help release tension in the fascia (connective tissue) surrounding muscles, potentially relieving pain and improving range of motion.
Detoxification: Some proponents claim that cupping can help eliminate toxins from the body, but scientific evidence supporting this is limited.
Relaxation: Cupping therapy is often used as a relaxation and stress-reduction technique, similar to massage therapy.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Concepts: In TCM, cupping is thought to balance the body’s “Qi” (energy) and improve the flow of Qi along meridians, which are believed to influence overall health
Some of you may have seen the 23-time Olympic gold medallist Michael Phelps with purple spots all over him at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. Cupping has become a favourite amount Olympians, athletes and weekend warriors for its ability to draws blood from your vessels and into your tissue to speed up recovery, accelerate the repair of damaged muscle fibres.
For more information see our Sports Recovery & Injury Page
Cupping can also be applied to chronic pain area such as neck, shoulder and lower back. Randomised controlled trial suggested that cupping alone could reduce pain when compared with no intervention (2).
For more information see our Chronic Injury & Pain Page
Although Cupping research is limited, there has been 550 clinical studies were identified published between 1959 and 2008, including 73 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), 22 clinical controlled trials, 373 case series, and 82 case reports (3).
Most of the conditions studied were related to pain, however there we also studies into benefits of cupping for other conditions; examples include herpes zoster, cough and asthma. In all studies there were no serious adverse effects were reported, which is great news indicated that cupping can be safely used in many conditions (3).
The research indicates that cupping may cause vasodilatation and stimulate blood circulation to increase metabolism and accelerate the elimination of waste and toxins from the body (2).
Although it is currently unknown the exact conditions that cupping is effective to treat but it is definitely promising if not relaxing.
Balanced Life Health Care | Ferntree Gully Acupuncture | Ferntree Gully Chinese Herbal Medicine | Serving Berwick and Melbourne’s South East including Ferntree Gully, Upper Ferntree Gully, Upway, Tecoma, Boronia, Rowville, Scoresby, Bayswater, The Basin, Croydon, Belgrave, Lysterfield, Knoxfield, Glen Waverley, Wheeler’s Hill, Ringwood, Wantirna South