Cupping Therapy / Ventosas

written by Li-Lan Hsiang Weiss L.Ac. and Jess Taylor LMBT

Cupping is a form of therapy widely used in Chinese Medicine and now is commonly incorporated into bodywork sessions.  Cupping has a long history. The Ebers Papyrus, written c. 1550 BC, considered one of the oldest medical textbooks in the Western world, describes how the Egyptians used cupping to help cure some frequent medical issues and how it was also used by people in the Saharan. Hippocrates, a Greek physician (400 BC), also used this technique to treat internal disease and some structural problems.

Ge Hong (281-341 A.D.), a southern Chinese official during the Jin Dynasty, wrote about it. He was interested in alchemy, herbalism and techniques of longevity. Ge Hong popularized the saying “Acupuncture and cupping, more than half of the ills cured.” Later on, this method found its way throughout Asia, Europe and is commonly known in Mexico and Central America.

In the dry cupping procedure, practitioners place specialized cups on the skin, they can be glass, bamboo, porcelain, plastic, or silicone. They then use either heat, an air pump, or manually to create a suction between the cup and the skin. As a result, a vacuum is created on the patient’s skin to draw out toxins from the tissues, dispel stagnant blood and lymph, and soothe muscle pain thereby improving the flow of Qi (energy) and blood.

Armonía Health’s licensed massage therapist Jess Taylor offers cupping therapy in conjunction with the massage session.  She uses silicone cups that easily create a suction over the skin without the use of additional fire vacuum or hand pump.  They are washed in hot water, soap, and disinfected after each use.  Following is her feedback on her use of the silicone cups and a more detailed explanation of cupping:

“For the past few months I have started to incorporate cupping therapy into my massage sessions and have been finding great success.  A few examples where this modality increased my effectiveness during sessions has been with clients experiencing shoulder and neck pain with limited range of motion, lung congestion and/or restriction, plantar fasciitis, habitual postural patterns from years of repetitive activity, edema, softening scar tissue and the ability to access deeper tissues and trigger points.  If any of this sounds familiar, let’s incorporate cupping into your next massage.

In these sessions, silicone cups are placed on areas of the body by squeezing the cups to create a vacuum pressure which then lifts the tissue, pulling out toxins, metabolic waste and bringing stagnant blood to the surface.  Fresh blood flow can then enter the tissues, rejuvenating them with nutrients and oxygen. When incorporated with massage, cupping can help to sedate the nervous system, decrease chronic muscle tension in specific areas, decrease inflammation and increase range of motion.  Essentially, this form of therapy is effective for helping stuck areas in the body to become unstuck.  Muscles and fascia are left feeling more supple with less tension and a sense of deep relief. These are just some of the many benefits of cupping therapy.

Please note since cupping pulls toxins and stagnant blood up to the surface of the body, this may sometimes cause a ring or purplish red discoloration to appear on the skin.  These marks usually dissipate within 1-5 days of treatment and are a normal part of the the healing process. Generally, these marks will only be experienced during the first few treatments or in areas of great restriction. I am available Tuesday afternoons for massage and cupping,

Maybe it’s time to try something new in your healing regimen if you haven’t had cupping before!”


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