Health Lifestyle

What the Cup? Cupping Therapy- have you heard of it?

By: Kyla Woolstencroft, RMT

Where did this unusual therapy come from? Cupping therapy has been recorded being used for thousands of years, as far back as 28 AD. From Northern Africa, throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia cupping therapy was very common in households, performed by Grandmothers and  Mothers, and in the western hospitals by skilled surgeons and physicians.

So why does cupping seem new?

With the introduction of Modern medicine and use of pharmacology many traditional therapies became less common place. With public interest and knowledge growing cupping therapy is becoming more sought after. Many athletes and celebrities are making appearances with cupping marks as a curious accessory.

Today a variety of practitioners can practice cupping ranging from physicians, acupuncturists, massage therapists, to physiotherapists. There is no regulatory body that governs the practice of cupping, however each professions regulatory body or association should require the individual to have formal training or certification.

How is does cupping work?

Generally, a cup made of glass or earthenware is held over a flame and then quickly applied to the skin. The insulating nature of the glass or earthenware allow the vessel to remain a comfortable temperature. The flame warms the air inside the cup and then as the air cools (once the cup is on the skin) it creates a natural vacuum. A gentle pulling or lifting sensation is felt and blood is drawn to the area. Modern types of cups that are commonly used today include ones that are made of rubber, silicone, or plastic. Some methods of cupping include the practitioner removing the cup after a few seconds and then continue to apply and then remove for the duration of the treatment, other methods the cups will be moved around while on the skin (sliding cupping), or the cups remain on the skin from 5-20 minutes. By facilitating the flow of blood and lymph to specific areas the body cupping allows the remarkable ability of the body to heal itself to take place. It is normal to have a range of colourful marks left on the skin after treatment. The colour of the marks can be used as a diagnostic tool by the practitioner. The marks are often described as a bruise, however these marks unlike bruises are not painful, and are not caused by trauma to the skin or vessels of the circulatory system. Cupping therapy has a wide variety of benefits with minimal to no side effects.

For thousands of years cupping has been clinically used to treat bites or stings, splinters (even in World War II to remove shrapnel), cold, flu, respiratory disorders, muscular pain, swelling, fatigue, digestive problems, facial paralysis, inflammatory conditions, cosmetic purposes and some skin conditions. Many practitioners used cupping today, all around the world for these same ailments.

Most importantly make sure you seek out a qualified professional to assess if cupping would be safe and beneficial to you.

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