What Is Cupping? Does It Work?

Cupping therapy Mar13th 2023

Cupping is a traditional healing technique that some people use to relieve pain. A provider places cups on your back, stomach, arms, legs, or other body parts. A vacuum or suction force pulls the skin upward inside the cup.

Cupping therapy

Cupping is a traditional Chinese and Middle Eastern medicine technique. Cupping therapy has been used for thousands of years.

Benefits of Cupping therapy

Cupping therapy is an ancient alternative medicine practiced in many cultures worldwide for centuries. Placing cups on the skin creates suction, which helps relieve pain, inflammation, and other health conditions. Here are some of the potential benefits of cupping therapy:

  • Cupping therapy may help relieve pain caused by arthritis, fibromyalgia, and back pain. The suction created by the cups can aid in increasing blood flow and reducing inflammation, aiding in pain relief.
  • Cupping therapy may aid in improving blood circulation by increasing blood flow to the areas where the cups are placed. This can help promote tissue healing and relieve muscle tension.
  • Cupping therapy is frequently used to promote relaxation and relieve stress. The treatment can aid in activating the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls rest and reduces anxiety.
  • Cupping therapy may aid in detoxification by improving lymphatic drainage. The suction created by the cups can help in the flow of lymphatic fluid, which aids in removing toxins from the body.
  • Cupping therapy can help boost the immune system by increasing the production of white blood cells. This can aid the body’s ability to fight infections and illnesses more effectively.

How does cupping therapy work?

Cupping involves placing cups (made of glass, plastic, bamboo, or ceramic) on the skin to create suction. Cups can be placed on the back, shoulders, stomach, legs, or any other muscle group where they are easily attached.

As the skin is drawn into the cups, this suction creates a negative pressure environment, allowing for myofascial decompression. Cupping uses negative pressure to lift muscle fibers and draw blood to the area, whereas massage therapy uses direct pressure to release tension.

There are two kinds of cupping methods: wet and dry. There are two types of cupping techniques: static and dynamic.

Dry cupping employs a pumping technique to draw skin tissue into the cup. The subcutaneous tissue (the bottom layer of your skin) is removed into the cups and held there for a short period—between 5 and 15 minutes.

Dry cupping cups can either slide across the skin or remain in place, referred to as dynamic and stagnant cupping, respectively.

Wet cupping, on the other hand, takes things one step further. After creating a mild suction, a practitioner removes the cup and makes a tiny cut on the skin with a small scalpel. Then a second suction is used to extract a small amount of blood.

Side effects of Cupping therapy

When performed by a qualified practitioner, Cupping therapy is generally considered safe but can have side effects. Cupping therapy may have the following side effects:

  • Cupping can cause redness, bruising, or blisters on the skin where the cups have been placed. These typically heal in a few days.
  • Cupping can be painful; some people may feel pain or discomfort during or after the procedure.
  • Cupping can cause a drop in blood pressure, which can cause dizziness or lightheadedness.
  • Some people may experience nausea or vomiting following cupping therapy.
  • Infection: There is a risk of disease if the cups are not adequately sterilized. This is uncommon, but selecting a qualified practitioner and ensuring proper hygiene practices are followed is critical.
  • Cupping therapy can cause burns in some cases if the cups are left on the skin for too long or if they are heated.

It is important to note that cupping therapy is not for everyone, and certain conditions may make it unsafe or ineffective. If you are considering cupping treatment, consult your healthcare provider to see if it is safe and appropriate.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the science say about cupping?

Some research suggests cupping can help pain relief, but the studies are generally regarded as low quality. More research is needed to understand the therapy’s health effects fully.

Cupping is a safe treatment option for most patients and may supplement an existing treatment plan. As with all therapies, seeing an adequately trained and licensed professional is critical. Also, before attempting any new medical program, consult with your doctor.

Is cupping a painful procedure?

Cupping should be smooth if done by a licensed practitioner. Depending on the person or the amount of treatment, it may cause temporary bruising (known as ecchymosis), swelling, or soreness. The left-behind spots usually fade after a few days or a week.

Who performs cupping?

Cupping can be performed by a variety of professionals, including:

  • Acupuncturists
  • Massage therapists
  • Chiropractors
  • Physical therapists
  • Medical doctors

What kinds of cups are there?

The majority of providers use glass or plastic cups, but cups can also be:

  • Bamboo
  • Silicone
  • Ceramic
  • Metal 

What should I expect following cupping?

Cupping’s suction force ruptures tiny blood vessels beneath the skin. You will have round bruise-like marks on your skin that will fade in a week or two.

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