Monday August 8th 2022

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Cupping Therapy

Photo Caption: Glass cup used in fire cupping
Photo Credit: Nikki Fleck

By Nikki Fleck NTP, L.Ac.

Therapeutic cupping has been around for a long time. It has been used in China for thousands of years and also in many other cultures around the globe. Cupping is the practice of creating reverse pressure or suction on the skin by using heat (fire) or manual suction with various cylindrical, hollow tools. Historically, some communities used bull horns, gourds or bamboo to cup but today tools like glass are more common. In my own practice today we use glass to allow for adequate disinfection of the cups. Cupping creates a vacuum-like action which pulls skin and muscle tissues up and away from the body which provides a delightful releasing and relaxing sensation for the patient. Many patients even fall asleep during treatment.
Although many western trained providers offer cupping today, there are some notable differences when receiving cupping from practitioners properly trained from an East Asian medicine perspective. The foundational knowledge of meridians, acupuncture points and extensive anatomy and physiology training provides us with a diverse toolkit in treating an assortment of conditions. Patients often seek out cupping to address muscle pain and tightness. Many people are not aware that cupping has the potential to address issues like constipation, insomnia, the common cold, anxiety, nausea, asthma, muscle weakness and much more. It can even be useful in preventing illnesses like the flu. With skillful application, cupping has great potential to support healing and help prevent disease. Although acupuncture and cupping are great companions, cupping can be a great option for those who are needle averse.
Cupping helps reduce pain and inflammation, increases circulation, calms the body and brain, promotes cellular repair and gifts the skin with healthy vibrancy. It can assist in reducing congestion that comes with allergies, bacterial and viral infections well as symptoms that accompany cystic fibrosis and asthma. Cupping can be very calming, reducing irritability and other common PMS symptoms. Cupping can also help stimulate peristalsis and the release of gastric juices which supports digestive function, especially for patients experiencing constipation. It can also be utilized as a wonderful preventative therapy.
Cupping is typically a safe therapy when performed by a properly trained provider. Cupping can leave a range of colorful marks on patients that last anywhere from a few hours to ten days. Some patients will have no color. This is not an indication of whether the therapy “worked” but simply how the patient is responding to the therapy and what it tells us about their constitution and current condition. Conditions that may be contraindicated are fever, pregnancy, weakness, inflamed skin, lymphedema, taking blood thinners and receiving chemotherapy. Your provider will be able to assess if cupping is appropriate for you. As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions or feedback; I enjoy hearing from you.

Acupuncturist, herbalist and Nutritional Therapist at Perennial Acupuncture and Companion Medicine

Disclaimer: Information is for informational and educational purposes only. Information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Speak to your healthcare provider before implementing any changes to your health care practice.

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