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Chinese Cupping: How It Works and Why You Should Try It

Ever seen Hollywood’s finest walking the red carpet and sporting those purple circles on their backs? Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Anniston perhaps? That’s because they’re right into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) cupping!

Thousands of years old, Chinese cupping therapy is a bit of a strange concept, but it’s so effective! It’s being used more and more in western culture to treat common problems, from chronic pain and skin conditions, to fertility and even varicose veins.

What is it exactly?

It’s an ancient treatment where heat is applied inside glass or bamboo cups to create a vacuum, before placing them onto the skins surface. The pressure inside the cup is reduced and the skin and muscles inside are drawn up.

We use specific acupuncture points and meridians (or channels) usually along the back, the neck and shoulders. It feels incredible! I explain it like a reverse massage, lifting everything up to separate all the layers; the skin, the fascia, the muscle and the nerves so blood can flow freely between them.

See also Traditional Chinese Medicine For Beginners

There are a few different cupping techniques:

1. Regular, fixed cupping – which is where different sized cups are placed on the skin over acupuncture points and left to sit, usually for 5-10 minutes.

2. Mobile cupping – this is where you glide the cups over the meridians with oil on the skin, like a massage. It feels amazing and gives you instant relief.

Why it’s so good for you – below. 

chinese cupping
Source: @onemedicine // Instagram

Why is it so good for you?

It helps to remove stagnation or blockages of Qi (vital energy) and blood stasis, which causes pain and disease. It stimulates and rejuvenates the internal organs by activating acupuncture points. From a western, scientific perspective it: increases circulation, promotes healing, activates the lymphatic system, releases toxins and helps tissue repair.

The side effects may include some bruising or redness on the skin that can last a few days up to a week or so. Personally I think those round marks are not too bad – quite in vogue!

Why you should try cupping – below

chinese cupping
Source: @onemedicine // Instagram

Why should you try cupping?

If you’re reading this article, chances are that you have some form of ailment that you’re thinking cupping could possibly ease. Cupping can help you achieve a more healthful state of being in many ways. Here are 5 common health problems many people regularly face (and you may be facing right now) and how cupping can help in each instance:

1. Great for pain and injury

It is commonly used for musculoskeletal conditions from strained muscles, lower back pain, scoliosis and even bulging disks. Active people respond well to cupping, particularly athletes and gym goers, as it loosens tightness and can help to reduce inflammation and promote blood flow.

2. Amazing for stiffness and tension

If you work in an office or sit down job then you will understand the tension that you can hold in your upper back, shoulders and neck. Chained to the desk, your posture can suffer. Just 5 minutes of cupping can release the tension through your shoulders and have you feeling lighter and freer, with better range of movement.

See also How Physical Pain Can Be Linked To Emotions

3. Fabulous for respiratory conditions

Cupping is traditionally used for asthma, common colds and flus, even TB and pneumonia. Cupping directly over the lungs on the back can strengthen lung function, detoxify and help to clear pathogens lingering in the body as well as boost the immune system.

4. Helpful for digestion and bloating

Cupping can support gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS, bloating, cramping and constipation. By moving Qi and blood, it stimulates digestive enzymes and peristalsis in the intestines so you have improved gut health and better digestion.

5. Beneficial for distressing, improving sleep and relaxation

After cupping, you feel lighter and much more relaxed. By feeling calmer, you will sleep better, stress levels reduce and it can even help relieve headaches, especially when paired with acupuncture. Even Oprah says it helps her to relax! The incredible cupping benefits will have you wanting it and once you try it, you’ll be going back for more!

See also Everything You Need To Know About Kinesiology

Have you had cupping before? I want to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Chinese Cupping
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Carla Brion Doctor of Chinese Medicine & Acupuncturist

Based in Adelaide and with a double degree in health science, Carla helps to treat a wide range of health issues via Traditional Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture. Her passion and specialisation lies in Women's health, treating issues such as PCOS, endometriosis and natural fertility. Carla takes a holistic approach with each of her clients, to restore balance and promote an overall and long-term state of wellbeing.

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