Chinese Cupping Therapy

Here’s what you may have missed in my last blog post.

Two weeks ago, Lauren (meaning me, myself and I) went on an adventure to seek out an alternative form of therapy to relieve her overwhelmingly constant back pain. It was full of new experiences and epiphanies, that she will long remember. Read about what took place here because she is about to go all in on how cupping came to be.

Cupping is an ancient Chinese medicine therapy that has been around for thousands of years. Supposedly, one of the first ever recordings of cupping was found in a tomb of the Han Dynasty, written in a collection of medical works made of silk called a Bo Shu. It was used as a way of healing, relieving the body and boosting ones energy. The methods and equipment used today are said to have both remained the same but also developed with technology.

Mawangdui_LaoTsu_Ms2

A part of a Mǎwángduī Bóshū, similar to what was found in the Han tomb. Photo cred: http://bit.ly/2vvxB8W

“Acupuncture and cupping, more than half of the ills cured,”  is an apparent saying in China that supports the cupping as a form of alternative therapy.

With celebrities and athletes like Justin Bieber, Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Phelps and Victoria Beckham flaunting their perfectly circular bruises in public, many sources believe that cupping has become increasingly popular in recent years within the western world. I can see this to be true, as I myself was influenced to give it a go after seeing micro celebrities, Erin and Joslyn doing it. Though I did genuinely believe this therapy could potentially benefit me and not because I saw it as a fad.

Though, going into this experience I was completely naive in terms of how many things cupping therapy is used for. There are multiple reasons for requesting this remedial therapy as Live Well- Acupuncture and Herbal Clinic highlights, including:

  • Clear the meridians ,
  • Qi and blood circulation ,
  • swelling and pain ,
  • and expelling wind and cold

Gladly, I successfully managed to maintain some massage room etiquette and avoid the last. (Possibly because I didn’t eat before hand.)

I also discovered that it helps aid more then just ones physical conditions but also mental, especially with depression and anxiety. Stating, “the therapy can limit the inflammation and overall pain in the body. As a result, it will help to enhance the physical and mental relaxation. That will naturally boost the well-being of the patient.”  This is  definitely how I felt leaving the clinic.

One thing I found intriguing was the cups themselves. I was unsure as to what they were made of but due to the amusing noise they created, I  made the assumption they were some sort of rubber. After further research, there are different forms of cups that can be used that made of various materials including glass, bamboo, earthenware or silicone.

Cupping-therapy-Cup-types

Photo cred: AcuPro Academy. http://bit.ly/2h4cSns

In a research article published by PLOS in 2012, a group of researchers reviewed 135 cupping cases and they concluded that cupping is also effective for various diseases and conditions, in particular herpes zoster, acne, facial paralysis, and cervical spondylosis. Though they make point that the reviews may be biased and further randomised controlled trials are necessary. I think what it comes down to is the individuals experience and their own unique experiences, which is definitely something Ellis et al (2011) explores.

There are two different types of cupping, wet or dry. I knew this but I didn’t know what exactly this entailed going into my experience.

Now, I tried dry cupping as that was all the clinic offered and I am glad I did after researching what wet was. Wet seems very advanced and a little more daunting. Dry cupping is where the cups are placed on effected areas, drawing the skin that begins to turn red into the cups. Wet cupping takes dry cupping one step further by removing the cups then using a scalpel to make superficial slices in the skin then again placing the cups back on top to draw out a small amount of blood for detoxification. An ointment is then placed on the cuts to avoid infection.

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Wet cupping. Photo cred: http://bit.ly/2wY8bp5

Oh yeah! By the way… WARNING! The image above is a bit icky.

There are potential side effects to cupping and skin infection is one of them. Bruising is the most common and expected but generally fades around 10 days. Some others are mild discomfort and fire cupping can induce slight burns.

I thought the length of my cupping experience was short. As I had fixed cupping done which is where different sized cups are suctioned onto one spot, according to Back In Health, the cups are only supposed to be left on the effected area for 3-5 minutes.  Unlike mobile cupping where the cups are moved around using oil, like an inverted massage.

Something I also think is interesting to know is the people therapists recommend cupping is not fit for. Due to the manipulation and steering of blood, menstruating or pregnant women, anyone who has metastatic cancer, anyone who suffers from muscles spasm or bone fracture and anyone who suffers from haemophilia are not recommended. This is really important to know before going into a session, particularly for young women who may not know it isn’t good to go when menstruating.

So, the fact that this therapy has withheld the times and has remained mostly the same, makes me believe there is definitely some sort of power in it. Though I do still believe its power comes down to each individuals own unique experience.

Lauren.

ALSO ! Before you go!

Here are a series of links that really helped me understand more about the process of cupping. I highly recommend you check out these if you want to know more or plan on getting cupping therapy done.

Back in Health – http://backinhealthosteo.com.au/the-myths-truths-behind-myofascial-cupping-therapy/

WebMD – http://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/cupping-therapy#2

Cupping Warehouse – http://www.cuppingwarehouse.com/history-of-cupping/

ACOS – http://www.acos.org/articles/chinese-medicine-cupping/

SA Integrated Therapies – http://www.saintegratedtherapies.com.au/cupping/

Mindbodygreen – https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-16791/3-reasons-everyone-should-try-cupping.html

Ellis, C., Adams, T.E., and Bochner, A.P. (2011) ‘Autoethnography: An Overview‘, Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12:1. Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095

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