Cupping is an excellent traditional Chinese physical therapy and has been found to be 3000 years old. In the cupping process, a local suction is created on the skin and the skin is forced upward. Chinese doctors believe such stimulation can help regulate blood flow and stimulate other processes thus helping to treat pain, deep scars in the muscles and connective tissue, muscle knots and swelling. Despite this, there are many disputes in accordance with the validity of its results.
Cupping has been used to treat diseases, stop pain and maintain health for 3000 years. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used cupping for internal disease and structural problems. This method has spread into medicine in many Asian and European cultures.
Generally speaking, there are three types of cupping in China: fire cupping, wet cupping and air-exhaustion cupping. Fire cupping involves soaking a cotton ball in 70% alcohol and firing the cotton in a glass cup to consume the air, then putting the cup on the skin swiftly. With its warm temperature, fire cupping can be more effective. Bamboo cups are often used in wet cupping. People may put cups in boiling water for a while then take them out and dry off the water. They use a towel to hold it and put it on the skin. People often put Chinese medicine in the water for further effect. For air-exhaustion cupping, people use a little machine to exhaust the air in the cup. This type of cupping is easy for people to do at home.
According to the principle of air pressure the skin will be forced upwards. After 10 to 15 minutes, the upward skin will become red or even purple due to the accumulation of blood. Sometimes water appears to stick to the wall of cup. That means some "wet qi" in your body has been taken out. In Chinese medicine system, the "wet qi" is considered to be exogenous evil as it can cause diseases. In this sense, cupping is a good way to maintain health.
People who often suffer pain in their necks and backs due to labour work or pressure use cupping to move the flow of the blood. Chinese doctors believe the effect can alleviate pain and encourage relaxation.
Cupping is even popular in some foreign countries. There is even a British Cupping Society to promote its use. Are you brave enough to give it a try?