Were you attacked by an octopus?
Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and actress Gwyneth Paltrow recently made the news the past few years, showing off their circular, purple suction marks left by cups from this ancient treatment (feel free to “google” their pictures after cupping). Some patients have likened the marks left after treatment to that of an octopus and how it would possibly look if one decided to give you a hug! These famed patients have stirred up a new interest in this therapy, although it most certainly isn’t new. Cupping has been performed in China for thousands of years by TCM physicians as well as by other ancient medical practitioners in other countries and cultures around the world.
The practitioner uses either a glass, silicone or plastic bell-shaped cups to perform the therapy. A light oil is applied to the skin if the cup will be sliding across muscles and fascia to relieve muscle tension or treat certain areas of the body for other purposes. Your practitioner can tell you if and why cupping is needed or recommended for your condition.
The suction of the cup causes blood to rise to the surface of the skin. Blood and lymph are pushed by the movement of the cups, flushing away toxins and inviting chemical mediators to the muscles and skin to induce healing. The therapy feels like a relaxing, deep tissue massage. If a patient has a lot of stagnation or is currently afflicted with a virus, bacterial infection or fever, the blood might leave dark circles on the back after the cups are removed. These “suction circles” will go away in a few days time and do not hurt. The patient should not take a shower for 24 hours after the treatment, sit in front of a cold fan or air conditioner or dive into any big bodies of cold water after treatment. This could cause the patient’s body temperature to decrease rapidly and lowers the immune system’s ability to fight off viruses.
Slide cupping or stationary cupping is offered to relieve muscle tension, prevent colds, treat allergies, asthma or other lung conditions, acne, depression, fibromyalgia and many other conditions. It can also be used for fever reduction.
It is recommended that this treatment be performed by a licensed, trained TCM practitioner. When too many cups are used or used improperly by an untrained individual, the treatment can cause fatigue in the patient or even impair the immune system if proper aftercare and precautions are not taken. There are also certain individuals who should avoid cupping or proceed with caution (i.e. those with DVT history, menstruating or pregnant women and those with psoriatic arthritis). Blisters have also been known to occur by those who are not trained, which could lead to a bacterial infection if proper care is not taken. At Waleli Wellness, we have never had these issues with our patients under the care of our licensed and highly trained practitioners, as we know the proper protocols, contraindications and methods for our patients.
(see practitioner for details)