Chances are we would have seen glimpses of circular purplish marks peeking out from under the clothes of others and as alarming as they make look, those marks are the result of cupping — an alternative treatment that originated in China and parts of the Middle East.
Involving the use of cups that create suction, this method encourages healing through the flow of ‘qi’, or life force, in the blood. It is believed that cupping aids in the balancing of yin and yang in the body and re-establishes the balance between these two extremes. It is also known for its ability to build up the body’s resistance to viruses and increase promote blood circulation.
With a heightened blood flow at the points where these cups are placed, healing can better take place. Sore muscles and tissues that have been strained benefit greatly from the blood coursing through these affected areas such as connective tissues, blood vessels and the surrounding areas can be renewed.
While cupping is an area of ancient medicine that is still being explored, experts have deduced that though cupping may ease pains and cure other minor ailments, there are still many possibilities as to how this fascinating treatment is fully capable of benefitting mankind.
So how does cupping actually work?
There are two main methods for cupping - dry and wet cupping. For dry cupping, the cup is positioned on the skin and then heated with fire using alcohol, herbs or paper as a flammable source for the suction effect. Alternatively, a more modern approach of simply using a rubber pump to create suction has been adopted.
When the hot cup cools, a vacuum is formed and draws the skin and muscle upwards. It remains this way for about five to 10 minutes. In the case of wet cupping, the cups are placed for just a few minutes before they are removed, and the area is either pricked or incise slightly to draw blood. Once the cups are removed, the practitioner may apply ointments or bandages to keep the area clear of infection. Those alarming marks usually fade in about 10 days.