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Risks & Benefits of Cupping: Everything You Should Know

therapist placing cups on woman's back

Cupping is an ancient form of Chinese medicine that has been around for centuries. Whether you’ve never heard of cupping or you’ve always wanted to try it out, there are a few things that you should know. Professional therapists are trained in the process of cupping and are knowledgeable about the benefits and risks, but you’ll want to be aware of these things before participating in cupping.

How Does Cupping Work?

There are two different forms of cupping – wet and dry. Each form of cupping involves the therapists applying a flammable substance to a glass or bamboo cup to light on fire. This heat is often combined with herbs, paper or alcohol. And no need to worry, there will be no open flames near you, and the cup will just feel warm to the touch of your skin.. As the flame is going out, they place the cup on your back, creating a vacuum on the skin due to a lack of oxygen. This causes your blood vessels to expand, which is why the skin is red and a little puffy during and after cupping. The cup is typically left in place for anywhere from 5-10 minutes.

A more recent method of cupping achieves the same results, but leaves out the flammable substance. Therapists use cups with a rubber pump to create the vacuum effect in the cup. Using silicone cups is a little less common, but helps therapists slide the cup around the desired area, which is known as gliding cupping.This is all defined as dry cupping.

Wet cupping may be a bit more painful for some, as the therapist removes the cups from the skin, and uses a scalpel to make tiny cuts in the skin, and then do a second suction to draw out a small quantity of blood.

What are the Benefits of Cupping?

Cupping has several benefits, so there is no doubt as to why this is the preferred therapy of many people. Cupping does not have a lot of medical research to back it up, but it has shown several benefits. Clients claim that they feel less stressed, feel an increase in blood flow and feel an inner balance in their bodies. Cupping also decreases pain in the back, hip, and other areas of the body.

To see even more results, some people prefer to combine acupuncture with cupping. This specific form of acupuncture is known as needle cupping. Needle cupping involves inserting tiny stainless steel needles into the skin before placing the cup on the skin. Needle Cupping is said to treat muscle aches and spasms, migraines, chest congestion, etc.

What are the Risks of Cupping?

Amidst all the benefits, some risks of cupping do exist. A common side effect of cupping is infection. A trained therapist will typically give their client ointment and bandages so that the cupped areas do not get infected, but infection is still a possibility. Because each individual has pressure points in slightly different places, a patient may also walk away with bruising, soreness and bleeding. The risks of cupping are mild, but it is important to be aware of them.

Try it Out

There you have it! Cupping may not be the best form of therapy for everyone, but it’s worth a try. Be sure to consult a doctor before seeing a therapist that specializes in acupuncture and cupping. If you are interested in becoming a licensed acupuncture practitioner yourself, take a look at Beauty and Bodywork Insurance and the acupuncture insurance policies that are offered.

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