You might have seen those bizarre red circles on Olympians or celebrities recently and pondered if someone did not apply their sunscreen correctly. These red markings are actually from cupping therapy sessions, a type of deep tissue massage. It goes without saying that cupping therapy is definitely something I recommend you try.
What is Cupping Therapy?
Cupping therapy is an alternative therapy method much like acupuncture and massage. Instead of applying pressure to muscles or penetrating the skin, though, cupping uses suction from “cups” to pull skin, tissue, and muscles upward. This action enhances circulation, relieves pain, and pulls out impurities . These cups can be made from glass, bamboo, earthenware, or silicone, although I have seen one earthenware ones in person.
Though this type of therapy is now trending around the world, it is not a new discovery. Cupping therapy has been used since 3000 BC by the ancient Egyptians, Middle Eastern cultures, and Chinese. In China, cupping therapy is a trade passed down through the generations. In ancient times, Taoist medical herbalists used cupping therapy to treat royals and aristocrats.
How does it Work?
The therapy involves using cups applied to a patient’s back. Cups are positioned in such a way that a vacuum effect is created. This suction targets areas deep beneath the skin and tissue.
There are two techniques widely used in cupping therapy: dry cupping (also known as “fire cupping”) and wet cupping (also called “bleeding cupping”). Also seen with dry cupping are “fixed cupping,” and “moving cupping,” where the cups may or may not be repositioned around the back.
This style of cupping involves having cups placed onto the patient’s back then carefully heated using fire. Sometimes, the cups are heated with hot water or oil. Once placed, the cups are held on the back for about 15 minutes. Since the cups contract during cooling, the skin in contact with the cup gets pulled up into the cup. If the cups do not get moved, this would be “fixed cupping.” Should oil be applied to the back and the cups moved around while cooling, that would be “moving cupping.”
This version was most popular in the Middle East and involves “blood-letting” . After leaving a cup on the back for about 3 minutes, the therapist then removes the cup and uses a scalpel to cut the skin. Another set of cups is then placed over the cut to draw out blood.
What are the Benefits?
Research has been done on cupping therapy. A recent meta-analysis published by PLOS One in 2012 stated that cupping aids various conditions like:
- Herpes zoster
- Cervical spondylosis
The British Cupping Society also says cupping is beneficial for treating the following:
- Rheumatic diseases like arthritis and fibromyalgia
- High blood pressure
- Bronchial congestion
- Varicose veins
I know cupping therapy might seem a bit scary and look weird, but it is an OiB recommended treatment. You will not believe how much better you feel after a few sessions! Release toxins, tensions, and ailments trapped beneath the skin. Once you have had your first experience, please share your story with us!