Cupping is the application of suction cups to the body. It is a traditional treatment, either done alone or in conjunction with acupuncture. Sometimes the cups are left in one spot, while other times the practitioner slides them along the body's surface. Folk medicines of many cultures use some form of cupping.
To create suction, a vacuum is created inside a specially made therapeutic cup. Modern cups have a valve on top to which a simple pump can be attached. Sucking air out with the pump creates a vacuum. Once suction is adequate, the pump is removed and the cup sits on the skin’s surface, typically for 5-20 minutes.
“Fire cupping” is the traditional method. The vacuum is created by quickly inserting a flame into the cup. As with the valve style, these cups remain on the body 5-20 minutes until the treatment is done. Fire cupping does not burn or feel hot on your body. Cupping can be used in place of acupuncture, or as a combination treatment with acupuncture.
Suction promotes circulation. Increasing circulation reduces swelling, allowing toxins to flow away and nutrients to flow into the area. Cupping is most often used for pain, injury (such as sprained ankles), and respiratory problems. It is used for stress induced pain, digestive problems, sleep difficulties, and other conditions.
Cupping alleviates discomfort from digestive issues, menstrual problems, stress, and other ailments. With respiratory problems, the gentle suction can get phlegm moving, enabling the lungs can expel it.
Cupping shouldn’t hurt. It leaves marks, called ‘cupping marks’, in the shape of the cup. This mark does not hurt and will go away within a few hours to a week. Cupping can give immediate relief for some things, and creates a state of deep relaxation. Children do very well with cupping.
Guasha is similar to cupping. However instead of using suction, friction is applied with a rounded instrument to stimulate an area of the body. Chinese soup spoons, baby food jar caps, and specially designed guasha instruments are commonly used for guasha. Typically some sort of salve or cream is applied before applying the friction. Guasha is most often used for respiratory problems and muscular pain. The reddish markings that appear with properly applied guasha indicate successful increase in circulation to dispel congestion