Brief History of Cupping Therapy

One of the oldest and most globally practiced medical treatments in human history is Cupping Therapy. The indigenous tribes in Africa, Asia, Pacific Islands and Americans were among the first to use Cupping Therapy. The first form cups ever used were animal horns, usually American Bison or Water Buffalo. The horn was placed on the treatment site of the body and the air was sucked out of the opposite end of the horn. The resulting vacuum created drained toxins out of snakebites, infections and skin lesions, removing the blood, pus and poisons from the body.

What is used for this technique?

Modern cupping techniques use glass, plastic or rubber cups attached to a suction device, or a compressible rubber bulb. Once suction is created, the practitioner slides the cup along a large body surface such as the back, thigh or gluteals until softening of the muscle and connective tissue is observed. Or the cups may be placed stationary on certain acupuncture points, muscles, meridians, etc. depending on clients needs.  Pure fractionated coconut oil is used to help the cups glide smoothly and is known as "moving cups."

What are the discolorations left on the skin from cupping therapy?

In areas of tissue dysfunction, this technique may occasionally leave a temporary mark, called "sha."  Sha resembles a bruise but is not painful. Traditional Chinese Medicine regards the appearance of sha as an indication that toxins and stagnation are being pulled to the surface of the body, restoring healthy blood flow and qi to the muscle.  These are NOT bruises. Bruises are usually the result of trauma from impact, which breaks blood vessels and allows blood to seep into the surrounding tissue. In contrast, cupping involves the application of suction. Once understood and the many positive results of cupping are experienced, any initial concerns about cupping discolorations disappear. Cupping can affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing the tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic disappear. Cupping can affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing the tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages and activate the skin.

How long do the marks last?

If any discolorations surface these are temporary, typically ranging in color from light pink to dark purple and can last anywhere between a few hours to 10 days before gradually fading away entirely. Again, no pain or tenderness is typically felt following a cupping treatment, whether or not discolorations appear on the skin.

What do the marks indicate?

Traditional Chinese Medicine learning indicate that the marks result from dredging stagnation from within bodily tissues up closer to the surface of the skin, also helping to restore flow of energy and blood to the areas treated. This stagnation can include dead blood cells, old lymph fluid, and toxins that the body has not been able to eliminate via its circulatory system.

How does cupping feel? Is it painful?

Cupping clients usually report lasting changes for the better (especially with cumulative treatments). Cupping has a sedating effect on the nervous system, and many people find it profoundly relaxing. After a cupping treatment, clients typically report feelings of relief, muscular release, lightness, pleasant tingling, and freedom from pain and an increase in flexibility and muscular control.   Contracted, tense and painful muscle tissue will soften quickly with just a few minutes of cupping. Cupping is generally not painful. Some people who suffer from fibromyalgia or other chronic muscular disorders may feel minimal discomfort and should mention it immediately so adjustments can be made. Many people report that muscle tension and tenderness that was there prior to the session continues to improve for many hours after the session is completed and experience lasting results vs. receiving a general massage.

Is cupping therapy safe for pregnant women?

For pregnant women, cupping on the lower abdomen, medial leg and lumbosacral region should be avoided.