What can you expect when you go for a cupping session? In this day and age, clean glass cups are used. Three thousand years ago, bamboo, animal horn or brass - if you could afford it - were the order of the day. In fact, the old Chinese name for cupping was 'horning'. Doctors of traditional Chinese medicine and practitioners of Japanese shiatsu therapy, place the cups at various positions along the meridian lines. These are the same lines used in acupuncture. There are five meridians on the back and these are usually targeted, particularly the bladder meridian.

Cupping is generally used if there is cold energy in the patient's meridians. The warm air from the cupping stimulates the skin, and the suction coaxes blood to the area which promotes localized healing. The chi is warmed and starts to flow freely down the meridians. As traditionally called for, a warming oil is applied to the appropriate area before treatment begins. The cups are heated with alcohol and flame on the inside to cause a vacuum, then placed over the skin. As the cup cools down, the skin is sucked up inside. The amount of dark red or even purple blood drawn to the surface indicates the degree of stagnation. Dark blood is a sign of stagnation, which in many cases in modern terms is the amount of toxins in the blood.

A typical cupping session follows an acupuncture treatment. A cupping session done without acupuncture can last from 15 to 25 minutes, depending on the condition being treated. A cupping session can leave a person feeling sedated and relaxed, much like the effects of a massage can cause. It can also leave the appearance of bruising. The bruises resulting from cupping only last a couple of days and are typically not painful. Today, cupping is used for stress relief, respiratory disease, as well as digestive and gynecological disorders, headaches and dizziness, and lymphatic blockages. The common cold can also be tackled with cupping, as can insomnia and, of course, soft tissue injuries.

Cupping should NOT be used when a person has a vascular condition or when there is high fever, convulsions or cramps, allergic skin conditions, or ulcerated sores. Remember too that cupping should NEVER be used on women who are pregnant. Always be honest with any health care provider regarding your health issue to insure safe, precautionary measures.

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Denver, CO 80210


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