An ancient Chinese practice, cupping relies on the same principles as acupuncture. By stimulating qi, it has become increasingly popular with the Hollywood set. Cupping has become popular with celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, J.Lo, Nicollette Sheridan and showing off their marks. It is a Chinese practice where cups are used to create a suctioning pressure that draws the skin and some layers of muscle inside the cup. It is said that cupping can draw toxins out of the muscles and skin. Like acupuncture, cupping is about easing the flow of qi, and is also done on specific points of the body. Cupping can also be considered a massage as the cups can be moved around the skin. People who had cupping therapy say that they feel light, and their body is relaxed after their cupping session.
Origin of cupping
The earliest records of someone performing the technique of cupping are of Ge Hong, a Taoist and a famous herbalist and alchemist from the third century. He wrote the process of cupping in the book titled A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies. Ge Hong used the horns of animals in his practice. Thus, it was called horn technique during the early years. During the Qing Dynasty, Zhao Xuemin wrote a book entitled Supplement to Outline of Materia Medica, which describes a technique using heated cups made of pottery or bamboo. The technique was called huoquan qi or fire jar qi. This technique was used to treat abdominal pain, dizziness, headaches, and others. One traditional use for cupping was to stimulate the body’s qi to flush out any toxins, such as cold viruses. Cupping has evolved since these early beginnings – today air is sucked out of the cups with either a pump or by creating a vacuum with a flame.
How it works
Cupping works by suctioning the skin and some layers of muscle into the cups to stimulate the body’s flow of qi. The Chinese believe that blocked energy paths in the body create numerous health problems, such as hormonal imbalances, joint and muscle pains, and decrease in blood flow. With the vacuum pull that cupping provides, muscles are loosened, nerves stimulated, and blood flow is increased. Chinese medicine emphasizes the interconnected of bodily systems and organs – improved circulation and energy is said to vivify the whole body.
- More energy flow: According to the Chinese, cupping can help in improving the flow of chi or energy in the body. It is said that cupping can suck the negative energy from the body to let the positive energy flow more freely. The cups are places on specific key points of the body where energy is said to be collected. When the body is full of positive energy, both physical and mental health will improve.
- Pain relief: When the heated cups are moved around the skin while the cup is still suctioned, it creates a massage-like feeling that can ease muscle pain. Proponents say that that a cupping treatment is more effective at pain relief than a traditional massage, and the effects last longer.
- Relaxes muscles: Cupping is a good technique that can ease muscle stiffness and increase blood flow. This leads to better oxidation of the muscles which can increase flexibility and reaction time.
- Stress removal: Cupping can be very relaxing to the body and the mind. Cupping is usually performed in a very relaxing and calm atmosphere. The therapist is very gentle with what they do, and the strokes that they make with the cup are very similar to most massage therapies.
- It improves digestion: Cupping therapies can help improve the digestive system when the cups are applied to the stomach area. By relaxing the stomach muscles and improving blood flow, it can increase nutrient absorption.
- Rheumatic diseases: Cupping is used to treat rheumatic diseases like arthritis and muscle conditions. Cupping can increase the blood supply in the areas where the cup is placed. By increasing blood flow and oxygen to the affected area, it can reduce inflammation.
- Skin problems: cupping can suck out toxins and other impurities in the skin and muscles. This can benefit people with skin problems like acne and eczema.
- Gynecological disorders: cupping may help women with gynecological disorders. It can stimulate a woman’s reproductive organs through the massage-like movements of the cupping therapy and through improvement of blood flow.
- Psychological disorders: cupping therapies are very relaxing. It is often used to treat anxiety, chronic pain and insomnia. By relaxing the body, it can help relax the mind, triggering a positive hormonal response, which can greatly affects a person’s mood.
The main side effect from cupping are its marks, swelling and bruising along the back. These marks should fade after a few hours, although they may take longer. Aside, there are no known severe side effects that are associated with cupping. Some people who have their first cupping therapy may feel some discomfort as they become used to the sucking pressure of the cups.
Cupping is an ancient Chinese practice that has grown increasingly popular in the west. While its medical benefits are not yet proven, many find cupping deeply relaxing, and find that it stimulates blood flow and good energy. Cupping operates on the same principles as qi and acupuncture, which has a number of scientific studies to support certain health benefits, such as easing headaches, stress, anxiety, allergies, fatigue, asthma, digestion problems, skin conditions such as eczema, and psoriasis, and others.
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