This is a question we get asked a lot in clinic. Basically, cupping therapy is an ancient method to move stagnant energy or blood to the surface or to address external attacks from nature such as – cold, heat, wind (draught), dampness, or summer heat.
To relieve organ disharmonies, we also place cups over back shu organ points in the appropriate areas. For example, a flu or cold in traditional oriental medicine is often described as an attack of wind cold. By placing cups on the upper back and back shu point of the lung at the area of Bladder 13 will help restore lung function as well as clearing wind and cold from the channels.
There are different types of cups. Most commonly, cups are made out of glass which is what we use in our clinics. However, a thousand years ago, cups were made of bamboo, clay and animal horns.
There are different types of Cupping techniques – Dry cupping (also known as Classic cupping), Gliding cupping, Air Suction cupping, and Wet cupping are the predominant types used in practice.
- Classic cupping – This technique is called fire or dry cupping and involves placing the cup over an ashi point (painful area) or an acupuncture point along an energy meridian. The cups are left in place anywhere from 5-10 minutes depending on the nature of the individual’s condition.
- Gliding cupping – The gliding or sliding cups technique is traditionally performed on large muscle groups of the back to treat pain and muscle spasms. Massage oil is applied to the skin prior to the cups being placed, which allows the cups to glide easily over the surface of the skin by the practitioner.
- Air Suction cupping – With air cupping, an alternative to fire cupping, a handheld suction pump is used to remove air from the cups creating the vacuum without heat.
- Wet cupping – Wet cupping combines an acupuncture technique called bleeding of the cupping process. A lancet is used to prick the skin before the cup is applied, which encourages a small amount of blood to flow from the area. This treatment is thought to dispel internal toxins. TCM practitioners use this technique for “cooling” inflammatory conditions and treating chronic traditions.
Dr Mark McAuliffe
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