Though eastern medicine comes in many forms for different ailments, perhaps one of the most recognizable is cupping therapy. Somewhere between massage and acupuncture cupping works by creating negative pressure within a closed space, usually a glass or plastic cup, though in more antiquated practices therapists have been known to use bamboo or cattle horns. This pressure created by each cup opens and pores and redirects both blood and Qi (the body’s natural potential energy) in order to pull pathogens through the skin itself removing impurities from the body. Therapists can create a vacuum and apply the cups in a few ways; lighting a cotton ball inside creates immense pressure as does more pumping the air out but for those looking for a more comfortable treatment, one that doesn’t leave large red circles all over their back the cups can be exposed to a candle flame or warmed by a soothing bath in essential oils.
In its more extreme form cupping is focused on relieving the body of any impurities through intense, prolonged suction. Though this method is completely safe patients may complain about looking like an alien for a day or so as they walk around with bulbous circles on their back, however, both these and the later bruises are relatively painless. For those seeking the utmost in their treatment cupping methods can also be applied in a medical setting as a form of bloodletting. In this procedure, a pump creates the vacuum and the cups are removed after only a short while for the practitioner to make many small incisions on each of the areas under pressure. With the cups returned to their places, the pressure is left on for about an hour allowing the old blood stored in capillaries to seep out, needless to say, this not an “at home” sort of treatment. In fact, the best place to find a cupping specialist is at your local spa or homeopathic treatment center, though some doctors may also offer treatment.
My favorite way to enjoy the milder benefits of cupping therapy is what’s typically referred to as the dry method, as opposed to the wet (bloodletting) method, the dry method utilizes less exposure to heat greatly reducing the vacuum’s strength within each cup. It also feels luxurious to drench myself in essential oils and allow my boyfriend, the massage therapist, to move the cups up and down my back resulting in a similar sensation to deep tissue massage. In any form, traditional cupping therapy can serve as a soothing way to cleanse the body or work out some knots. While I recommend completing an online certification, it is completely safe to practice on yourself or with a partner so long as you understand the minor risks associated with the practice, the most common of which is burning your skin from overheating.
To learn more about the risks involved in cupping therapy click the link: here. Or, if you’re inspired and would like to look into earning a certificate in the area, online course and certificates are offered at cuppingtherapy.org.