In a cupping procedure, the part of the body to be cupped needs to be identified first. For relief of pain, the cups are usually placed around the nearby acupoints or on the problematic area. In treating illnesses, the cups are applied on the back as it is the part of the body where the acupuncture points directly associated with body organs are located.
Next, the cups to be used are then selected. Because of their versatility with the heat from the fire, glass cups are often used for the treatment, although in terms of hygiene, the use of plastic cups would be preferable since they are used only once; bamboo cups can be used along with a medicinal concoction.
Once the practitioner removes the air in the bamboo or glass cup, the cup needs to be immediately placed on the body (plastic cups are first placed on the body prior to removing the air in the cup). As long as there is enough flesh in the site that can be sucked into the cups, almost any area of the body can be used in the therapy. For the posterior, the biggest cups are used while the smallest cups are used for the neck or face. The legs, back, and arms are treated with medium sized cups. Areas where cupping therapy can’t be used include areas where there are large scars or where there is little flesh.
Once the cups have been removed, they usually leave circular purple marks on the body and can be mistaken for bruises. They are not painful and after a few days, normally fade away.
The cups are retained in the body for approximately twenty minutes. Leaving them in the body for longer than 20 minutes can lead to the development of water blisters. But these blisters can also develop earlier if the force of the suction in the cup is too great. If the patient develops blisters, the practitioner can prick the blisters with a needle to drain out the fluid inside and then apply it with aloe vera gel and other soothing natural lotions. In Chinese medicine, the formation of blisters during cupping therapy is actually a good sign since it is associated with a faster healing process. Recently, because of cosmetic reasons, the process of creating blisters through cupping has been stopped.
All in all, we can say that cupping is a pain-free and extremely relaxing process. The patient always ends up feeling extremely satisfied with the procedure. There are individuals who even claim that cupping can be addictive and they go for treatment on a regular basis. It is a highly recommended form of therapy for anyone wanting to feel relaxed and be relieved of stress.
Scott Paglia is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist in Bellingham, WA and provides master level pulse diagnosis, Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture in Whatcom County, WA.