Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin. Practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing. Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pump).
One way to think about this ancient therapy, is that it is the inverse of massage. Rather than applying pressure to muscles, the suction uses pressure to pull skin, tissue and muscles upward. Often, it is combined with acupuncture, but it could also be used alone.
Cupping was developed thousands of years ago and though the techniques have modernized, the original philosophy remains the same. There is reason to believe the practice dates from as early as 3000 BC. The Ebers Papyrus, written c. 1550 BC and one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, describes the Egyptians‘ use of cups.. Archaeologists have found evidence in China of this practice dating back to 1000 BC. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (c. 400 BC) used it for internal disease and structural problems.
Traditional Chinese Medicine
According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) cupping is a method of creating a vacuum on the patient’s skin to dispel stagnation — stagnant blood and lymph, thereby improving qi flow— to treat respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis. This therapy is utilized for back, neck, shoulder and other musculoskeletal conditions. The purpose is to enhance circulation, help relieve pain, remove “heat” and pull out the toxins that linger in your body’s tissues.
You usually will feel a tight sensation in the area of the cup. Often, this sensation is relaxing and soothing. Depending on your comfort and your practitioner’s assessment of the problem, cups may be moved around or left in place. They may remain on your body briefly or for longer amounts of time. Each treatment is unique to you on that particular day. One very common area to be cupped is the back, although cups work well on other areas, too — particularly on fleshy sections of the body.
The skin can temporarily turn red, blue or purple, especially if there is an injury or energetic blockage under the area that was cupped. The skin discoloration can last anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks, but is rarely painful. Once the marks have cleared, the procedure can be repeated until the condition or ailment is resolved.
Benefits of Cupping Therapy
Supporters believe that cupping therapy can reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body as well as mental and physical relaxation and well-being.
The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). This treatment is also valuable for the lungs, and can clear congestion from a common cold or help to control a person’s asthma. In fact, respiratory conditions are one of the most common maladies that cupping is used to relieve.
Cupping is also used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite. For weight loss and cellulite treatments, oil is first applied to the skin, and then the cups are moved up and down the surrounding area.
As with acupuncture, cupping follows the lines of the meridians. There are five meridian lines on the back, and these are where the cups are usually placed. Using these points, cupping can help to align and relax qi, as well as target more specific maladies. By targeting the meridian channels, cupping strives to ‘open’ these channels – the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, through all tissues and organs, thus providing a smoother and more free-flowing qi (life force).
Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected materials.
Meet the practitioners:
Allison Sassano is a graduate of the Finger Lakes School of Massage has been a licensed massage therapist since 2001. Allison practices the specialty of cupping incorporated into her unique massage techniques. She also is trained in craniosacral therapy and hot stone massage.
Tony Mantello is a Licensed Massage Therapist and has earned Master’s Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Tony has extensive experience with fire cupping and brings this specialty to our clinic.
Call today to schedule an appointment and experience the benefits of this ancient therapy!