Fire Cupping Therapy
Fire Cupping is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine where glass cups are first air heated with fire and then quickly placed on the skin’s surface to create suction or a vacuum, which gently draws the skin and superficial muscle layer up and into the cups. The suction or vacuum created by the cup increases blood flow to the area being cupped and promotes the flow of energy in the body by facilitating the body’s natural healing abilities. In some cases, the glass cups may be moved while the suction of the skin is active. This causes a regional pull of the skin and muscles (known as gliding or sliding cupping), which is an attempt to “re-start” the circulation of blood in the body.
Cupping is one of the best deep tissue therapies available. Scientifically, this technique is known to help activate the lymphatic system, eliminate stagnation, promote blood circulation, relax muscles, release scar tissue, and aid deep tissue repair. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected materials. The cups can be placed on a variety of areas on the body, such as the chest, abdomen, limbs, and most often, the back. Fire cupping is primarily used to treat musculoskeletal pain, such as neck, back, and shoulder pain, as well as a variety of respiratory disorders, such as asthma, and numerous other health concerns.
How is the suction created and how are the cups applied to the skin?
Traditional Fire Cupping typically involves the Acupuncturist soaking a cotton ball in almost pure alcohol. The cotton is clamped by a pair of forceps, lit, and, in one motion, inserted into the cup and quickly removed, while the cup is placed on the skin. The fire heats the inside of the cup and a small amount of suction is created by the air cooling down and contracting. Because of this contracting, the skin is forced into the cup. The pressure created by the cups can easily be adjusted once they are placed on the skin to provide the utmost comfort. The cups may either be kept in that position for a set period of time and/or the cups may be moved to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, and relaxation. Once time is up, the cups are removed. Dark circles or cupping marks, ranging from bright red to dark purple, may appear where the cups were used. The size and intensity of the cupping marks, if any, depends on the severity of one’s condition and varies greatly from one person to the next. These dark circles or cupping marks usually will go away within 7 days but may last as long as 2 weeks.
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