Traditional Glass Cupping – 10 amazing benefits of this ancient therapy [and what it actually is]

Call me crazy, but it’s beautiful; the smooth glass; the little flame, and the elegant swooping motion that lands a warm cup gently on your skin.

Perhaps you saw the round markings on Michael Phelps at the Rio Olympics, or maybe you’ve been to Vietnam and seen people riding around on motorbikes with some strange bulbs attached to their backs.

I have to admit, the first time I came across cupping therapy, I was pretty apprehensive. But as soon as I settled into the sensations, I was hooked.

Why cupping? What are the benefits?

There are many wonderful benefits to cupping. From a western perspective, the cups are generally used to move toxins, and improve blood and lymph flow, which can reduce swelling and help in the healing of injuries and various infections or diseases.

Basically, when our liver and kidneys are overloaded (much of the time unfortunately), our body stores these undigested toxins in our muscles and connective tissues. The cups draw these toxins out of the deep tissues and into the skin. Some of these toxins are released through the skin, and others transported back to the liver where they can be metabolised and eliminated.

In Chinese medicine, the cups are used on specific acupressure points and meridians. A thorough diagnosis will reveal the unique balance of your system and a treatment will be designed to mobilise areas of stagnation.

In the clinic here I generally integrate cupping therapy with bodywork and adapt the sessions to meet your individual needs. Often this ends up being a combination of injury specific therapy, and the holistic Chinese medicine approach that aims to address the root cause of the imbalance.

Here’s 10 of the particularly fantastic benefits:

1) Pain relief

2) Stress reduction – calms the nervous system

3) Detoxification

4) Loosen and repair muscles, tendons and ligaments

5) Balance your energetic system

6) Calm the emotional body

7) Improve digestion

8) Enhance energy levels

9) Support the lymphatic system

10) Help to relieve menstrual pain

So what actually happens during a cupping treatment?

In basic terms, a small flame is used to create a vacuum inside the glass cups. The cups are then swiftly placed onto your body and the skin and soft tissue is drawn slightly up and into the cup.

The sensation is really unique. There is a feeling of your skin and upper tissue layers being pulled, which can feel quite strange at first. But generally after the first couple of minutes, you start to feel very relaxed and the sensation becomes enjoyable.

Depending on your needs, the therapist may slide the cups or leave them stationary. Before any sliding, your skin will be prepared with oil to prevent any skin burn. Where stationary cups are used is it usual for them to remain on your skin for around 10-15 minutes.

What about the markings? Are they bruises?

No the markings are not bruises. Bruising is caused by impact trauma, where the capillaries are broken and fluids accumulate. During cupping therapy, the suction in the cups draws stagnant blood, fluids and Ki to the surface.

Depending on your body, different coloured markings may appear. They are actually give amazing insight into various conditions and are a fantastic diagnostic tool. For example, the light pink markings indicate Ki stagnation and the deep dark purple markings are related to blood stagnation.

How long will the markings last?

Generally the light markings will fade within 3 days, whereas the darker ones can linger for up to 3 weeks. Best to save the cupping for a time when you aren’t planning to show off your skin!

When is cupping not appropriate?

  • While pregnant

  • If there is any kind of liver or kidney functional illness

  • In cases of other severe illness and disease – your practitioner will assess

  • On any skin conditions, cuts or abrasions

  • On any broken bones, slipped discs or dislocations

Over and Out...

I hope this answers some of your questions guys! We've been seeing some fantastic results in the clinic with cupping therapy lately. Many of my clients are choosing to integrate cupping into their routine health care.

Feel free to shoot through any questions, more than happy to have a chat about cupping or other therapies that I offer :)

Love and warmth x