Cupping is an ancient technique used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to stimulate acupuncture points or larger areas of the body. It is often practised alongside acupuncture but can also be a ‘stand-alone’ treatment and is a deeply relaxing and pain-free treatment.
The technique involves creating a vacuum inside round glass or bamboo cups by inserting a naked flame and removing it, then placing the cup quickly onto the area to be treated before the vacuum is lost. The cups are then left in place for anything up to 20 minutes.
Cupping is most commonly used to treat colds and flu by shifting congestion in the chest and/or to relieve muscle and joint pain. It can also be used to treat digestive and gynaecological problems and to draw out toxins from the body.
If large areas of the body need treating, a technique known as ‘sliding cups’ is used. A thin layer of massage oil is spread over the skin; the cups are placed onto the body in the normal way and then slid along the muscles being treated. This helps the blood and qi to flow more easily in stagnated areas.
Cupping is not painful but can leave slightly red patches on the skin, like circular bruises. Although these marks resemble bruises, the muscles have not been traumatised in any way. The redness on the skin indicates that there has been movement in the circulation of blood under and around the cups. Not all cupping treatments will result in redness as this depends on the complaint being addressed.
“Cupping therapy has been made famous by Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham, who have both been seen with its distinctive marks. This treatment is recommended for those who are turning their attention to healthy eating, exercise, quality sleep, skin health & lifestyle. Chinese swimmer, Wang Qun, was also photographed doing some last minute training in Beijing with round marks on her back from an acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine treatment.”
Moxibustion is an essential part of Chinese medicine which uses moxa, a soft woolly substance prepared from mugwort leaves (Artemisia vulgaris). In moxibustion the moxa is placed either directly on the skin or held just above it, over specific acupuncture points or meridians. The herb is lit and as it smoulders slowly, a therapeutic heat permeates the skin and affects the flow of ‘qi’ (energy) and blood in the area being treated.
Direct moxibustion is more commonly used for specific areas needing treatment. The practitioner shapes the moxa into a tiny cone and places it directly on to the body before lighting. The lit moxa cone is removed as soon as the patient feels any sensation of heat.
Cupping & Moxibustion News