Cupping: How the healing process works

Cupping has been used in various cultures for thousands of years. Among other things, it is part of TCM, Traditional Chinese Medicine. The indications range from tension in the back or muscle pain to nerve pain and mental problems. In the following, we explain exactly what cupping is and how the treatment with cupping glasses works.

What is cupping?

Cupping is an alternative medical treatment method that has been used in numerous cultures for thousands of years and is one of the draining methods. Today, cupping is usually used in combination with other treatment methods.

By sucking the skin with a cupping glass, the underlying tissue can be loosened. Therefore, cupping is used, for example, for muscle tension and its consequences, such as certain types of  headaches .

How does cupping work?

In order for the skin to be sucked into the glass, a vacuum must first be created in it. This is traditionally done by heating the  cupping glasses.  A cotton ball soaked in alcohol is lit and held in the glass. It is then removed again and the glass is placed on the skin. The air cools and a vacuum is created.

In the meantime, however, there are also special pumping devices that generate the negative pressure in the glass.

The shape of the cupping glasses is reminiscent of a bell. They are available in different sizes and are now also available in plastic.

What is cupping good for?

Since cupping was practiced early on in many different places around the world, there are also numerous different explanations for its effect.

Anyone who has been influenced by Western medicine will probably be most comfortable with the explanation that cupping treatments could have a  tension-relieving effect  . Cupping also  stimulates local blood circulation. As a result, the lymph flow and, in general, the  metabolism  in the treated area can improve.

In traditional Chinese medicine, cupping is   used to harmonize the flow of Chi life energy . In TCM, diseases are understood as irregularities in the Chi flow. In addition, cupping on special reflex zones is said to have an effect on the internal organs and organ systems connected to these points and to strengthen the self-healing powers.

In Europe, on the other hand, the notion that disease symptoms are the result of a “humorous imbalance” in the body has long prevailed. Accordingly, it should be necessary for healing to drain the harmful “juices”. This is how cupping came to be of importance here.

For which complaints is cupping used?

Cupping is mainly used for tense muscles and the resulting pain and other complaints of the musculoskeletal system. Cupping can also   relieve the symptoms of a cold .

However, there are other areas of application, for example:

Who is cupping not suitable for?

Cupping should not be used in the event of allergic reactions or inflammation of the skin in the areas to be treated. Areas with birthmarks, scars or  sunburn  as well as areas where radiotherapy is being carried out or has recently been carried out must also be left out of the treatment.

Anyone who suffers from blood clotting disorders or takes blood thinners such as Marcumar® must also avoid cupping.

Cosmetic cupping

However, cupping treatment can be performed not only for medical reasons, but also for cosmetic reasons.

Since it improves blood circulation and stimulates the metabolism, cupping is also used  to  treat cellulite  . In addition, the procedure is said to have an  anti-aging effect  because it   is supposed to smooth wrinkles .

If you want to cup the face, you should definitely use specially made glasses.

What cupping methods are there?

A distinction is made between three cupping methods:

  1. dry cupping
  2. bloody cupping
  3. cupping massage

Either the glasses are attached to reflex points, which are also known from  acupuncture  , or the treating person feels the skin beforehand to find hardening and irregularities, which are then cupped.
How often cupping is done depends on the individual case.

Dry cupping

Dry cupping is performed as described above, the skin is not pre-treated. Such a treatment lasts a maximum of fifteen minutes.

As a result,  bruising  can occur, and a feeling  of sore muscles can also  occur. However, these “side effects” after cupping are local reactions that subside over the course of a few days after the treatment.

Bloody cupping: Hacamat or Hijama

With bloody cupping, also known as hacamat or hijama, the areas of skin where the glasses are to be applied are scratched in advance  .  Here it is necessary to work very hygienically. This cupping method therefore only belongs in the hands of a doctor or naturopath.

A so-called Schröpfschnepper (a device with lancets used to scratch the skin) can be used for the incision, but some also work with sterile lancets. Due to the negative pressure in the cupping glass, blood and tissue water escape during cupping.

A treatment using this method is also usually carried out for no longer than fifteen minutes. However, it can be ended sooner if there is no more blood coming out.

Such a treatment should make the blood flow better, and it is also said that it eliminates harmful substances. Bloody cupping is said to offer advantages when stimulating reflex points, as it is said to trigger stronger stimuli.

What is a cupping massage?

Before a cupping or cupping massage, the skin area to be treated is oiled or creamed before the cupping glasses are passed over the skin. This  massage  is painful. How long it lasts therefore depends on the pain sensitivity of the person being treated. It rarely runs for more than a few minutes.

As a result, skin discoloration forms along the massage lines.

Who is allowed to cup?

As a medicine, cupping belongs in the hands of a doctor or naturopath who has experience with this treatment method.

Self-treatment or treating friends and family members is possible but  not recommended.  Under no circumstances should laypersons use bloody cupping, as this can lead to serious infections.

You can learn cupping, for example, in seminars at alternative practitioner schools. You can buy cupping sets with instructions for use at home on the Internet.

What does cupping cost?

Since there is insufficient scientific evidence of the effectiveness of cupping therapy, most statutory health insurance companies do not pay for such treatments. The cost of a session is between twenty and eighty euros.

 

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