Cupping is a lesser known method of treatment within Traditional Chinese Medicine. Acupuncture and Herbs are the more familiar forms that many people are aware of. In recent years it has become more widely known due to some Hollywood stars such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston.
Cupping is the term applied to a technique that uses small glass jars or bamboo cups as suction devices that are placed on the skin.
Once the suction has occurred, the cups can be gently moved across the skin. The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. Cupping is much like the inverse of massage – rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes. This is similar to the practice of Tui Na, a traditional Chinese medicine massage technique that targets acupuncture points as well as painful body parts, and is well known to provide relief through pressure.
The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow and therefore oxygen, and sedates the nervous system. Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite. For weight loss and cellulite treatments, oil is first applied to the skin, and then the cups are moved up and down the surrounding area.