New York City Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy and treatment is an ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice that involves suctioning or vacuuming sections of the body. The cups are heated by swabbing rubbing alcohol on the bottom and then lighting the cup or by placing an inverted cup over a flame to aid in suctioning. Once the cups are suctioned to the skin, they can be slid across much like a massage. As the skin and superficial muscle layer are drawn into the cup, stagnant blood and lymph are mobilized. The negative pressure provided by cupping loosens muscles and increases blood flow, drawing out toxins, calming the nervous system, and restoring imbalances in the flow of energy (or qi). There are various methods of cupping available today. Traditionally, pottery, bronze, and bamboo cups are used. Silicone cupping therapy is now available to limit bruising that occurs from air pressure. For easy movement of the cups along the meridians – the path through which TCM believes energy flows – some TCM practitioners apply oil to the skin before placing the cups upside down, directly onto the skin. Depending on the conditions being treated, cups are typically left in place for a period of five to fifteen minutes.   

Chinese Cupping on the Rise

Cupping has made a recent comeback thanks to professional athletes like Michael Phelps, who used cupping during the Olympic Games. For athletes and active individuals, it’s an excellent way to enhance the blood flow in any area, provide pain relief, and improve poorly nourished skin and muscle tissue. The use of acupuncture and other TCM techniques has risen steadily in the U.S and other Western countries over the past several decades. According to a survey on complementary health approaches by the National Institute of Health in 2007, in the U.S. alone at least 3.1 million people had tried acupuncture in 2007. The survey also showed that the number of visits to acupuncturists tripled between 1997 and 2007. 

Uses of Cupping

Cupping can be used for specific ailments and conditions such as, asthma, TMJ dysfunction, lung inflammation & congestion, Pneumonia, poorly nourished skin and muscle tissue, Diabetes, toxicity, stagnant lymph & edema, neuralgia & rheumatism, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia, anxiety, migraine and headaches, Parkinson’s disease, and others. In Chinese medicine philosophy, cupping is frequently used to draw stagnant blood into motion, especially in areas of injury or where stress is held, like the back and shoulders. This stress and pain is also released by placing cups on the meridians of the body connected to those muscles. By increasing the blood flow along the meridian, all of the muscles and organs connected to that meridian will also experience increased blood flow. 

The Science of Cupping

Although there haven’t been many randomized research studies about cupping therapy, research does suggest that it is a tool that can increase the effectiveness of other TCM treatment modalities as well as have impacts on specific conditions. One study published by the Public Library of Science’s Review Journal showed that cupping can be effective for conditions such as facial paralysis or Bell’s Palsy, cough, acne, and herniated discs or other conditions causing back pain. Cupping can also be used for “nonspecific” pain, which can either be from overuse, past injury, aging, or simple wear-and-tear that may have no specific inciting event. The Journal of Alternative Medicine published research showing that cupping was significantly effective at alleviating pain and improving range of motion for patients suffering from nonspecific knee pain in England. 

Cupping For Immunity

When it comes to a cough, cupping is often used to help with respiratory health, as is can help not only increase the blood flow to the lungs, but also to “loosen” the tissues surrounding the lungs that often restrict breathing. Patients with a respiratory infection, cold, or persistent breathing difficulties such as asthma may consider cupping to be a great tool accompanying their acupuncture treatment. Since one of the main benefits of cupping is increased blood flow, it can also help improve blood circulation throughout the body. This is generally helpful for all patients, but especially for anyone who may be dealing with cramps, muscle spasms, or circulation problems like Raynaud’s disease. Cupping is safe and effective.