Cupping therapy is an ancient technique of healing. It is performed by applying cups to selected skin points and creating a sub-atmospheric pressure, either by heat or by suction.
Cupping is widely used as a TCM treatment, but it was also part of numerous ancient healing systems. It has been a popular historical treatment in Arabic and Islamic countries. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates has also compiled extensive descriptions of the cupping application.
For thousands of years, Chinese Medicine practitioners have been using cupping therapy to move Blood and Qi, remove Cold pathogens as well as Heat pathogens and eliminate any stagnation in the body. Based on modern days’ researches, it is found that the subatmospheric pressure suction of cupping therapy promote peripheral blood circulation and improve immunity. There is also converging evidence indicating that cupping can induce comfort and relaxation on a systemic level, which may increase endogenous opioid production in the brain and leads to improved pain control.
Although the actual mechanism of cupping is not fully understood. Researches indicated that cupping may improve microcirculation, promote capillary endothelial cell repair, accelerate granulation and angiogenesis in the regional tissues. It also improve subcutaneous blood flow and to stimulate the autonomic nervous system. In the cupped region, blood vessels are dilated by the action of certain vasodilators, it helps to improve blood circulation, expedite the removal of toxin or noxine material from body tissue, and promote fluid and lymph drainage.
Cupping is most commonly performed in conjunction with acupuncture for local pain relief, such as headaches, neck pain. Professional therapist will also extend it for wider usage, like treating insomnia, anxiety and specific disease. In a cupping session, cups rest on the skin for 3–10 minutes and often leave darkened circles on their skin. The darkened circle will normally subsided within 1 week. For people who has concern on the dark circle, alternative ways of application may be used to achieve similar result without leaving a mark.
 Aboushanab TS, AlSanad S. Cupping therapy: an overview from a modern medicine perspective. Journal of acupuncture and meridian studies. 2018 Jun 1;11(3):83-7.
 Al-Bedah AM, Elsubai IS, Qureshi NA, Aboushanab TS, Ali GI, El-Olemy AT, Khalil AA, Khalil MK, Alqaed MS. The medical perspective of cupping therapy: Effects and mechanisms of action. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine. 2019 Apr 1;9(2):90-7.
Cupping therapy has been reported to be used in many conditions with different level of efficacy, such as cough, asthma, acne, common cold, urticaria, facial paralysis, cervical spondylosis, soft tissue injury, arthritis and neuro-dermatitis.
In our clinical practice, cupping is found to be effective in releasing symptoms that are associated with blockages, e.g. various type of pain (including headache, arthritis, and fibromyalgia), numbness, stagnant lymph, edema and poor circulation. For some of the clients, cupping also help to improve their poorly nourished skin and various skin conditions. Clients with high stress level also reported that cupping has a positive effect in easing their stress, improving their sleeping quality, and lowering their level of anxiety.
In a cupping session, cups with sub-atmospheric suction are placed on the skin of treatment receivers for 3–10 minutes and often leave darkened circles on their skin. The darkened circle will normally subsided within 1 week. The color of these cupping mark For people who has concern on the dark circle, alternative ways of application may be used to achieve similar result without leaving a mark. (What do your cupping color tells you?)
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