Cupping is a method of treating disease that is caused by local congestion. A partial vacuum is created in a cupping jar, usually by means of heat, which is then applied directly to the skin. The underlying tissue is drawn up into the jar forming an area of blood stasis. This appears to bruise the area, or at least turn it a bright red. The amount of dark red or purple blood drawn to the surface indicates the degree of stagnation. Dark blood is a sign of stagnation which often means that high amounts of toxins is present in the blood.
In ancient times, animal horns and bamboo jars were used, principally to drain fluid from sores.
Cupping is generally indicated in the treatment of Arthritic pain, abdominal pain, stomach ache, indigestion, headache, hypertension, common cold, cough, lower back pain and painful menstruation.
Generally, cupping is combined with acupuncture in one treatment, but it can also be used alone. 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). Cupping is 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.
Like 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 locations and acupoints. 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. Even hands, wrists, legs, and ankles can be ‘cupped,’ thus applying the healing to specific organs that correlate with these points.
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. Three thousand years ago, in the earliest Chinese documentation of cupping, it was recommended for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis.
The most common, traditional and effective method is called “Bleeding Cupping”. This technique requires a minute incision made on the surface of the skin before the cup is applied to collect the blood. The cups are placed on areas of the body which are known as cupping points, they include the back, towards the neck and in between the shoulder blades. This treatment may be slightly invasive but it is almost painless and most patients simply feel a slight scratching sensation during the process.
This form of cupping is like massage that is done by applying oil onto the skin and moving the cup around the area treated. The suction/vacuum created during this process is a weak which facilities the movement of the cup.
The idea of hot cupping comes from the heat produced by an ancient herb known as Mugwort which is a typed of heating leaf. During this treatment, a needle is warmed up by dried mugwort and a cup is placed over it to produce a “hot” vacuum.
Gua sha is a healing technique of traditional East Asian medicine. Sometimes called ‘coining, spooning or scraping’, Gua sha is defined as instrument-assisted unidirectional press-stroking of a lubricated area of the body surface to intentionally create transitory therapeutic petechiae called ‘sha’ representing extravasation of blood in the subcutis.
Raising sha removes blood stagnation considered pathogenic in traditional East Asian medicine. Modern research shows the transitory therapeutic petechiae produce an anti-inflammatory and immune protective effect that persists for days following a single Gua sha treatment accounting for the immediate relief that patients feel from pain, stiffness, fever, chill, cough, wheeze, nausea and vomiting etc, and why Gua sha is effective in acute and chronic internal organ disorders including liver inflammation in hepatitis.
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