When the Olympics were in Beijing in 2008 Cupping therapy made a big splash (pun intended…) as many Chinese athletes were seen mounting the blocks with cupping marks on their backs. You know, the ones that look like a giant squid or octopus attacked them?
Even though these prominent athletes were spending lots of time in the water, there was no creature from the deep motivating their training efforts - they were merely partaking in the benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine for sport enhancement. I have to admit that Cupping is by far one of my favorite accessory therapies in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine. Yeah, cupping…. so cool…
What Is Cupping?
What is cupping you ask? Cupping involves using glass, silicone, plastic or bamboo cups to create suction which relieves pain by increasing Qi and Blood flow to the local area. It also removes sha (stagnation) from the body by bringing it to the surface where your body can flush it out more easily. This makes it an excellent addition to any type of detox treatment. It can be done anywhere on the body, but the back is the largest body surface available so that is where cupping is most commonly used.
In Chinese Medicine the back is also dominated by the Bladder Channel which is dotted with access points called “Back Shu” points for all of your internal organs. These organs correspond to the 12 main meridians in the body - Bladder, Kidney, Liver, Gallbladder, Spleen, Stomach etc. - and cupping over Back Shu points specifically can activate the channels and effect change along the entire channel pathway.
Furthermore, cupping is often used to open a specific area of the upper back called the “wind gate” where colds and flu’s are believed energetically to enter the body and make you ill. These “evil pathogenic invaders” which make us sick can be carefully vented out of the body via the wind gate to alleviate the symptoms of colds and flu’s thereby shortening the duration of illness.
This makes cupping a powerful needle free therapy that can be used alone or, most commonly, in conjunction with Acupuncture to increase the effectiveness of treatment.
In Western Medicine terms, it is considered a myofascial release technique like deep tissue massage, and the experience for most people is much the same. Most people find it quite relaxing and feel like their muscles have been released and that knots have been worked out by this treatment.
What Are the Benefits of Cupping?
The primary benefits of cupping are Pain Relief, Relaxation and Detoxification. Cupping has many benefits and far reaching application, however, and can be used for:
Another benefit of Cupping therapy is that it can be done without Acupuncture if desired, and is therefore a highly effective needle-free Chinese Medicine treatment. It is also safe for children of any age, and in China it is a common home therapy for young children who are ill.
In conclusion, Cupping therapy is a simple yet profound and ancient technique for healing the body on multiple levels. It is safe, effective, needle free and can be done as part of Acupuncture treatment or as a stand alone intervention. At All Ways Well, I often integrates cupping into treatment to enhance and prolong the effects of Acupuncture and help patients reach their goals faster.
Questions? Contact Rebecca!
Rebecca M H Kitzerow is a Licensed Acupuncturist practicing in La Center, Washington. With over a decade of experience she has won 10 Nattie consumer choice awards from Natural Awakenings Magazine since 2014.