What is cupping?
Cupping refers to an ancient Chinese practice (the earliest recorded use of cupping is from 281–341 A.D.) in which a cup is applied to the skin and the pressure in the cup is reduced -- by using change in heat or by suctioning out air -- so that the skin and superficial muscle layer is drawn into and held in the cup. In some cases, the cup may be moved while the suction of skin is active, causing a regional pulling of the skin and muscle (this technique is called gliding cupping).
Cupping is applied by acupuncturists to certain acupuncture points, as well as to regions of the body that are affected by pain. Cups are applied with the intention of breaking up stagnation, that is, influencing local blood flow to relieve tension, toxicity, and pain.
Generally, the cup is left in place for about 10 minutes (typical range is 5–15 minutes). The skin becomes reddened due to the congestion of blood flow. The cup is removed by pressing the skin along side it to allow some outside air to leak into it, thus equalizing the pressure and releasing it. Cupping is painless and safe; however, some bruising along the site of the rim of the cup is expected.
Today, cupping is mainly recommended for the treatment of pain, gastro-intestinal disorders, lung diseases (especially chronic cough and asthma), and paralysis, though it can be used for other disorders as well. The areas of the body that are fleshy are preferred sites for cupping.
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