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Cupping

Cupping for health

It is now very common knowledge that top-performing athletes and film stars are using the ancient art of cupping therapy. The reason that it has regained popularity is because of its therapeutic benefits, which include:

 

  • Increased blood flow to an area, which helps speed up the healing process from an acute injury.

  • Releasing muscle tension

  • Easing symptoms of repetitive strain injury and rheumatoid arthritis

  • Digestion

  • Supporting the immune system

  • Reducing pain

  • Increase the flow of Qi

 

The noticeable signs of someone who has had a cupping therapy treatment are red circular marks on their skin. These marks vary in the length of time that they remain on your body, depending on the technique used, and each technique has a different purpose. Strong, medium, flash cupping, and sliding cupping will last 7-10 days, 5 days, 1 day, and minutes, respectively. The process and the red marks made by the cups do not cause any discomfort.

You can have cupping therapy as a standalone treatment, and it also combines well with Shiatsu treatments.

Cupping Styles

There are two main styles: wet cupping and dry cupping.

Dry cupping, which is the style I provide, does not pierce the skin and there is no bloodletting.

Wet cupping involves a small piercing of the skin to perform bloodletting with the cups.

 

How long are the sessions?

 

Each session will be 20 minutes long.

I will apply a small amount of oil to your skin before setting the cups in place, and then I would massage the area once the cups are removed.

 

How many treatments?

 

Four weekly sessions are recommended, and progress is reviewed after each session.

Cupping therapy as a treatment can be done every 2-3 days with very little chance of ill effects. It is advisable to have them that close together if the condition has been with you for a long time.

Is it Similar to Massage?

Yes and no.

How's that for a classic answer?

They both stimulate and nourish the skin, calm the nervous system, and release tension in the muscles, but cupping can also apply negative pressure to the skin, which is a lifting motion, helping to give separation where needed, which is an application that is hard to do with a massage.

Origins of Cupping

Cupping therapy is an ancient art, that is over 2,500 year old. Throughout the world many cultures used this technique to remove poisons from a patient. The first cups used, before we arrived at the materials that cups are made of today, were animal horns with a hole made at the narrow end, then the medicine man would suck to create a vacuum and draw out the pus or blood from the person.

Apparently there are records in the 'Ebers Papyrus', one of the oldest medical books in the world found in Egypt, that dates back to 1,550 BC, of cupping being used systematically for other ailments other than poison. I have been searching through this book, but I'm yet to find it. When I can confirm, I will update this post, or if you know where it is in the book, please contact me.

Ebers papyrus
Ebers Papyrus

I find it interesting that this technique for curing ills has existed between Africa and China and beyond, was integrated into numerous medical practises, and has been treating more or less the same conditions for over 2,500 years.

The earliest records of cupping being systematically used in China date from around 202 BC, during the Han dynasty. This evidence was found in the 'Mawangdui Silk Text'.

Treatments with wet and dry cupping were documented between 400 BC and 202 BC in other parts of the world.

Moxibustion

Moxa & Cones

Moxa wool is burned and used for a treatment called moxibustion.

The purpose of a moxibustion treatment, from a Chinese medical perspective, is to apply warmth to an acupoint or a specific part of the body to treat cold or dampness and improve the flow of Qi and Blood in the system.

Cold is a Yin factor, and its signs and symptoms can be brought on in two ways.

External cold, pathogenic influences coming from the outside, like the weather weakening the body's Yang Qi.

Internal cold, from Yang Qi deficiency weakening the protective Qi from the inside, like diet or emotions making your body susceptible to external influences. You can read more in my blog, Lung: Grief & Sadness.

The presence of excessive cold in the system can inhibit the movement of Qi and Blood through the channels. Chills, fevers, headaches, frequent colds, and cold limbs are some of the signs and symptoms.

Dampness is a Yang factor, and it is usually associated with the digestive system: the stomach, spleen, and intestines.

Some of the signs and symptoms are heaviness, stagnation, a foggy brain, or oedema. You may find it harder to get moving in the morning and have achy parts of the body.

An accumulation of lingering dampness could lead to rheumatism or rheumatoid arthritis.

Qi and Blood are interconnected. Qi pulls the Blood, and the Blood nourishes Qi. In our bodies, Qi is our vital energy that is important for the whole of our physical form and psychological state. When there is a good balance between Yin and Yang, Qi and Blood flow freely.

Treatments

Moxa treatments are incorporated into your Shiatsu sessions where it is required.

Styles of Moxibustion

There are two main moxibustion styles: indirect moxibustion and direct moxibustion.

Indirect moxibustion is the method I use for giving treatments.

The most common application is with a moxa stick. It is cigar-shaped and burned at one end, then the stick is held above your skin over an acupoint or moved around a larger area like the knee.

Sometimes loose moxa is placed on a thin slice of ginger, which will then rest on the skin and be removed when it gets too warm.

Small cones can be used; these are small enough to sit on an acupoint and then be removed when it gets too warm.

Direct moxibustion is when the burning moxa wool is put directly onto the skin until it blisters; this will normally leave a scar.

It can also be placed directly on the skin and removed before any blistering occurs.

Origins of Moxibustion

The beginnings of moxibustion stem from the early healing methods of cauterization. It is mentioned in writings dating back to the 5th century BC that placing hot sticks directly onto the skin to treat various illnesses was implemented. That method is still used today in the technique called direct moxibustion, as I described above. 

By the 12th century, moxa was highly regarded in therapeutic practises, with physicians remarking that it was better than acupuncture for certain cold illnesses.

 

The name moxa is derived from the Japanese word mogusa, which means mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris). This is the herb that moxa is made up of, and its properties are naturally warming.

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