Cupping Therapy (拔罐法)

cupping, cupping therapy, healthpoint oriental medicine

Cupping is an ancillary therapy to acupuncture and moxibustion within Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It is a method of treatment involving the application of suction via globe-shaped glass cups to the skin in order to resolve stagnation, move qi, and/or to draw out wind, cold, blood and sometimes pus. Suction is produced by eliminating the oxygen from the bell of cup, either by combustion or extraction.

Cupping is an ancillary therapy to acupuncture and moxibustion within Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Left: cupping utilized together with moxibustion.
Cupping involves the use of cups that are typically made of very heavy glass but which may be made of bamboo or plastic. A heat source is introduced into the space of the cup to create a vacuum (or this negative pressure may instead be created via a manual pump).

The cup is then placed on the body surface to create a sensation of suction or congestion. The degree or strength of suction can be varied by a skilled practitioner. In static fire-cupping, the cups then remain on the skin for a clinically appropriate length of time. The feeling is invariably new and different for almost every Western patient, but, as practiced at HealthPoint, the patient never feels any pain with this procedure.

Cupping was referred to as "horning" by Ge Hong (c. 281-361) in Zhou Hou Bei Ji Fang (Emergency Standby Remedies) because cups were originally made of animal horn. Cupping is not unique to TCM. But as is the case with each of the treatment modalities withing TCM, cupping is employed within TCM in a manner that is consistent with the fundamental theories and diagnostic and treatment principles of this system of medicine.

In some cases the cups are moved back-and-forth along the jing luo (经络 - "conduits and networks") on an oil medium, a technique referred to as sliding cupping or moving cupping. Our patients find this extremely relaxing and beneficial.

At HealthPoint we will sometimes use a type of cup that contains a small probe that applies gentle-but-consistent pressure on the skin and underlying tissue. With this non-invasive technique, acupuncture points are pressed but the skin is not broken. It is like a form of acupressure. This can be an effective form of treatment for children as well as for adults who would like to obtain the benefits of acupuncture but who may be a little nervous about needles.

Cupping is used for both exterior conditions to draw out pathogens or to move qi and blood in order to stimulate circulation and relieve aches and pains. Cupping may also be incorporated into a treatment plan to address internal conditions such as certain patterns contributing to infertility. We also employ the use of cupping in conjunction with other techniques at HealthPoint to treat certain patterns that result in dermatological (skin) conditions such as acne.
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