Cupping for Pain Relief & Vibrant Health

By Claudia Ward, MA, LAc, Dipl Ac

Cupping is a therapy that has been used for centuries both in the orient and in the west.

Cupping possesses exceptional value in the treatment of specific ailments, which comes from the technique to purify blood and its ability to enhance the body’s circulatory system, the immune system, the integumentary system (skin), as well as other bodily systems. For the healthy individual cupping promises longevity through greater vitality and strength and it also serves to prevent illness. Short-term bruises can appear, especially if the patient is quite ill or has a lot of blood stagnation in the area. These can be valuable diagnostic tools. Blood taken from these bruises have been shown to have high acidity, low levels of calcium ions, as well as some bacteria and viruses not usually found under normally colored areas of the skin. Besides removing these toxins from the skin the treatment also breaks up old red blood cells allowing them to be removed by the spleen and replaced by fresh ones by the bone marrow. Lab findings have also shown a greater amount of wastes excreted in the urine following a cupping treatment.

The most essential and interesting benefit of cupping lies in its ability to freshen the blood, thus cleansing the body’s blood system, enlivening and healing the whole organism.

Cupping is a powerful treatment for skin health and beauty.

When the body is in need of cleansing there are two basic approaches: Internally, by fasting or cleansing with herbs and diet, and externally by cupping. Improving circulation, the body’s circulatory system acts like a sewage system, removing wastes and debris from the body. Good circulation is essential to good health. Cupping cleanses away the cause of illness, stimulates the body’s own powers of healing and is excellent as a regular cleansing practice.

Cupping has also been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries, activate the skin, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins. Cupping is the best deep tissue massage available. Cupping is used to: drain excess fluids and toxins, loosen adhesions and lift connective tissue, bring blood flow to stagnant skin and muscles and stimulate the peripheral nervous system. Cupping therapy has been further developed as a means to open the ‘Meridians’ of the body. Meridians are the conduits in the body through which energy flows to every part of the body and through every organ and tissue. There are five meridians on the back that, when opened, allow invigorating energy to travel the whole length of the body. It has been found that cupping is probably the best way of opening those meridians.

Today, cupping is mainly recommended for the treatment of pain, gastro-intestinal disorders, constipation, vomiting, diarrhea, lung diseases (especially chronic cough and asthma), common cold, paralysis, menstrual disorders, allergies, skin disorders including skin cancer, heart disease, diabetes, rashes, migraines and chronic headaches, arthritis, joint pains, sport injuries, upper and lower back pain, neck and shoulder pain, knee, ankle, and elbow sprain and strain, acute sprained ankle, hormonal disorders, kidney disease, animal bites, hypertension, fatigue and depression, weight gain.

  1. Treatment often includes massage and acupuncture for pain relief
  2. The number of treatments required to heal a patient may range from 3 to 50, depending on the severity of the illness.
  3. A patient will often experience pain when the cups are first applied. Within a week or two, however, as the treatment progresses, the pain lessens. Skin discolorations also diminish as the body heals.
  4. Sometimes a patient’s symptoms will increase as the treatment progresses. This is because cupping stimulates a vigorous repair action in the body, symptoms are nothing but the signs of a body’s effort to heal itself.
  5. It is very important for the patient to partake of a healthy balanced diet during the course of treatment. As the treatments stimulate the production of new blood cells, well-balanced nutrients will be essential.
  6. The color response varies from individual to individual as well as with different locations on the body. As a rule, rosy pink skin is a sign of health while darker skin indicates a chronic illness or an acidic condition, or severe stagnation.
  7. Sometimes, at the beginning of treatment a patient will perceive no color variation. This is because the patient is suffering form a condition in which blood flowing to the skin is restricted. As treatment progresses, a normal response will be observed.
  8. Itching may be experienced in the early course of treatment. This comes from the vigorous repair action of the body and is a sign of the patient’s improving health.
  9. Slight fatigue or dizziness is also a normal response to the initial treatments.
  10. It is important to continue the treatments even after the body demonstrates a healthy skin color in response: the body continues cleansing internally.

I especially like the cupping massage, where essential oils are massaged into the skin and cups are placed on the body with a sliding motion, which creates a powerful reverse massage effect. There are cups designed for facial rejuvenation, other cups come in various sizes and can be used not only on the back but also the abdomen (enhancing health for the internal organs), knees, ankles, shoulders and elbows.

Cupping intensifies the therapeutic aspects of current treatments and is a subtle, yet very powerful, addition to any healing session.