Cupping therapy has been used for thousands of years by Egyptians, Hippocrates, as well as in Asia and Europe. Cupping therapy draws out toxins or cell waste that often get accumulated in soft tissues, muscles, joints and create discomfort. Our skin is the largest organ and treating excess or deficiency at this level with cupping will ensure smooth and proper flow and drainage of our lymphatic system as well as other fluids.
Glass or silicone cups are placed on the skin and a vacuum is created that draws up blood to the skin's surface. This allows more circulation of lymph fluid, oxygen and blood to heal and loosen up wound up muscle and fascia. Cupping also has a calming effect on the nervous system. Although cupping is not painful, the vacuum effect can create some pressure which can be adjusted to your comfort level.
Cups can be left on from 3 minutes to 30 minutes maximum depending on patient needs. I like to check in on patient a few times during treatment when cups are on.
After a cupping session, you will notice red circular marks (not bruises) that can range in color from mildly red (acute) to dark purple (chronic). The end result of cupping marks lets us know the degree of stagnation - unwanted toxins coming up to skin's surface.
How long these cupping marks last depend on the severity of your condition. Most marks will begin to lighten up almost back to your skin color in 3 days. More severe and chronic conditions may last up to 3 weeks. So before moving forward with cupping be sure you are comfortable with visible marks, especially if you are exposing your back, arms, legs for a special event.
After A Cupping Session
I always ask my patients to keep the area of cupping covered either with a scarf, sweater, shirt, etc. Cupping essentially opens up the pores of skin but also the meridian channels and thus leave you vulnerable to what we call "external invasion" of cold air, warm weather, air conditioning, heat, wet conditions etc. In order to allow the body to properly expel the internal toxins drawn up through cupping we have you take these precautions, including, not showering for 12 hours after your session.
Pronounced Gwa Sha
Gua means to scape or rub and Sha means red raised skin, aka petechiae
Gua Sha is an ancient healing technique that scrapes the skin using a tool like jade, which is smooth and cool to touch. Gua Sha helps promote circulation to the areas such as shoulder, buttocks, neck, arms and legs. The technique scrapes the skin and applies short and long strokes usually in downward motion to influence microcirculation of soft tissue.
Just like cupping Gua Sha addresses stagnant Qi and allows for more healthy flow of blood, oxygen and lymph fluid. This in turn helps to reduce inflammation and encourage healing.
Usually after a Gua Sha treatment a patient will experience a warming sensation and the skin will have what is known as petechiae. Similar to cupping the sha marks will fade in about 3 days, and often times within the hour.
I use both Gua Sha and Cupping Therapy often and find it most effective in combination with acupuncture for muscle pain and when treating the common cold/flu symptoms.
Did You Know?
Gua Sha and Cupping are both utilized in Facial Rejuvenation acupuncture as a time-held beauty treatment for glowing and youthful skin. Read more under Facial Rejuvenation.