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April 03, 2021 4 min read

The Benefits of Cupping Therapy

If you’re from the Mediterranean, you might have heard of “Ventosa” but not quite familiar with the term unless you frequently visit a spa or a massage salon for back pain treatments. Ventosa is a form of ancient cupping therapy that involves heating a glass cup which is then applied to the skin to provide suction. This form of therapy has been used for thousands of years, not just in the Asian countries, although it is believed by many to have originated from China - they call it Hijama in the Middle Eastern and Bankas in Eastern European.

Ventosa has been thought to stimulate the “Qi,” which in ancient Chinese is the life force or the “flow of energy” in the body. The suction facilitates healing through blood flow. Many Taoists also believe that cupping restores the balance between the “yin and yang”, or the negative and positive forces within the body, enhancing the body’s immune system as well as reduce pain.

What are the Types of Cupping?

Cupping therapy enhances blood circulation to the body part where the glass cups are applied. The heat and the suction effect may relieve muscle tension through hyperemia, or improved circulation, and hemostasis, or blood clot formation. Both of these processes can promote cell repair and healing. There are two main categories of cupping performed today:

  • Dry cupping is the traditional method of cupping therapy which only involves suction. A flammable substance is placed inside a glass cup and ignited briefly to heat up the glass before placing it upside down onto your skin. The glass is left for a few minutes and as it cools, a vacuum is created that draws your skin up into the cup.
  • Wet cupping involves both suction and controlled medical bleeding. Wet cupping follows a similar process as with the dry cupping only that prior to the cup being placed on your skin, a small incision or puncture is made on your skin. Blood is drawn out in the process.

What Should I Expect After a Cupping Treatment?

The glass cup stays on your skin for five to ten minutes. After a treatment, you may observe circular red marks on the surface of your skin from the cups, which will later on fade. The red marks are signs of increased blood flow to the area. Your therapist may apply ointment and bandages to these areas to prevent infection.

What are the Benefits of Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy helps the body heal quickly, as it causes an increase in blood flow to an injured area. Because it mechanically decompresses tissues, it can help conditions where there is muscular tightness or mild impingements. 

Cupping is believed to have systemic benefits for the immune system as well. Because it improves blood circulation and the flow of extracellular fluids, the body can better mobilize its functions around a weak or injured area. The following is a list of cupping benefits, both physically and mentally:

  • Improved Qi:In Chinese medicine, any disruption to the flow of energy will result in illness and pain. Cupping therapy encourages a good flow of Qi by placing glass cups along with a network of energy channels, known as the meridian system and points so that the body will be able to heal itself.
  • Encourages detoxification:Cupping stimulates blood and lymph flow so that toxins are flush out of our system. It also replenishes the body with a fresh supply of blood for nourishment.
  • Relieves pain:Cupping therapy stimulates a massaging effect of loosening soft tissues and promoting healing, which can be useful for relieving muscular pain.
  • Eases tense muscles:Cupping therapy softens the underlying muscle tissues and breaks up adhesions and related muscle knots.
  • Promotes relaxation:This is probably the best and primary reason why many people prefer cupping therapy. Many people report long-term relaxation effects following treatment sessions.

The British Cupping Society considers cupping therapy to treat:

  • Blood disorders such as anemia and hemophilia
  • Lumbar disc herniation
  • Rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Fertility and gynecological disorders
  • Skin problems such as eczema and acne
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraines
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Bronchial congestion caused by allergies and asthma
  • Varicose veins

Contraindications for Cupping Therapy

Cupping is generally safe, especially if it’s carried out by a qualified professional. However, the British Cupping Society advises not to provide the therapy to the following groups of people:

  • Those who are bleeder (bleed easily and/or cannot stop bleeding)
  • Pregnant or menstruating women
  • People with metastatic cancer
  • People with bone fractures or muscle spasms
  • People with edema

Also, the British Cupping Society advises not to carry out cupping on the following sites:

  • Sites of deep vein thrombosis
  • Areas with ulcer
  • An area where there is a shallow/superficial artery
  • A site where pulse can be felt

As always, anyone is advised to consult a professional before trying out cupping therapy. Don’t forget to inform your provider about anything of the above-mentioned conditions.

You may want to check Smart Cupping Therapy!