The Many Health Benefits You Can Derive From Cupping Therapy

Almost all of us will experience some type of body pain at least once in our lives. Pain is the sensation that tells us that there is some imbalance or disorder happening in our body caused by certain internal or external factors. Right from the Stone Age to the present day, various modalities and medicines have evolved to address several types of pain in various parts of our body. Some of the modern treatments practiced today are merely modifications of hundreds of years old therapies; nevertheless, the basic underlying principles behind them remain the same.

Cupping therapy is one such type of therapy where some of its techniques have changed a bit although the underlying principle remains unchanged. It is a treatment that was practiced in the Far East and by Arabs dating back over 3500 years ago mainly to alleviate aches and pain. The main equipments used in cupping therapy mainly are glass or plastic cups. Practitioners use the cups to generate a vacuum on a body part to boost the flow of lymph and blood through the tissues. Thousands of years, bamboo cups or animal horns were used instead of glass or plastic cups and were applied to the painful areas of the body. The heat accelerates healing in those specific areas.

Cupping therapy targets the energy channels in the body called meridians. They are invisible vessels in our body where energy travels throughout the body. They are spread across the body reaching to all organs and tissues. The energy within our body is known as chi and it normally flows in a smooth and free fashion through the meridians. If a blockage develops along a meridian, it slows down the movement of chi causing the body to experience illness and pain. Cupping is used to remove the blockage in the energy pathways restoring the normal function of the lymphatic system and enhancing the circulation of oxygen and blood in the body. It is usually performed on our back as it is believed that our back has the most number of meridians (five) in the body. Furthermore, this aids in the removal of toxins from our organs and tissues. As the vacuum creates a suction-like effect, the force penetrates deep inside the tissues and cells causing the toxins to be removed from the tissue and cells.

There are two ways to perform cupping therapy. One way is though a procedure called moving and the other way is through a procedure called stationary. The areas of treatment are first applied with oil in order to smoothly move the cups on the body. When a vacuum pump is continuously moved on the body over a large area, this method is known as moving cupping treatment. The cups are sometimes kept on a specific area without any movement for five to seven minutes. This is called the stationary procedure. Sometimes, five to six cups are simultaneously placed on different parts of the body then cyclically removed. This method is called Flash Cupping.

Once the treatment has ended, you may feel a tingling sensation deep within the body tissues. This indicates that the blood flow in your body is moving much faster than before you began treatment. It is a good idea to use essential oils just after the treatment since the oils can reach the tissues and nourish them which can lead to a healthy shining and glowing skin.

The Chinese cupping medicine therapy can provide you with so many other health benefits. It is commonly used to relieve fatigue, headache, back pain, stomach pain, and neck. It balances and regulates the hormones that helps reduce excess weight, makes your skin smooth and healthy, eliminates skin problems, treats constipation, and regulates ovulation in women. Cupping can also bolster our immune system giving us the strength and resiliency to withstand diseases.

Visit a health center that can offer you a complete treatment package if you are keen on trying this therapy yourself. You can also go online and search for a qualified practitioner near your area. Because of its many health benefits, cupping therapy is being used by more and more people from all walks of life each day.

Five Points Acupuncture & Wellness
20 Pondmeadow Dr #107
Reading, MA 01867
(781) 944-3000

The Approach of Traditional Chinese Medicine Vis-à-Vis Dysmenorrhea

A lot of women experience painful menstruation (dysmenorrhea) prior to, during, and after menstruation. The cramping is usually felt in the lower stomach although some women feel it in the lower back and sometimes, even down the legs. The painful symptoms can be different for each woman although they usually manifest as a constant, nagging pain or a sharp throbbing pain that often come and go. In severe dysmenorrhea, nausea and vomiting as well as lightheadedness can also occur. Recurrent dysmenorrhea affects about 50 percent of women and usually lasts one – three days and their symptoms can be mild to debilitating. Western medicine considers dysmenorrhea as merely a normal part of being a woman but in Chinese medicine, the symptoms indicate underlying imbalances that can be easily rectified.

According to Western medicine, high amounts of the hormone prostaglandin is responsible for menstrual cramping brought about by abnormal muscle contractions in the uterus that block the circulation of blood in parts of the uterus. This condition is classified into two types:

1. Primary dysmenorrhea – This condition starts from adolescence up to early adulthood and is connected with hormonal imbalances that cause severe uterine contractions.

2. Secondary dysmenorrhea – Women around their 30’s and 40’s are the ones most commonly affected by this condition. Other conditions that usually accompany secondary dysmenorrhea include fibroids, benign tumors (myomas), endometriosis, and pelvic inflammatory disease.

The Western conventional treatment for hormonal imbalances causing dysmenorrhea and irregular menstruation involve the use of contraceptive pills. Doctors usually prescribe analgesics if no specific cause can be diagnosed for the menstrual pain.

There are two common Chinese Medicine approaches for gynecological conditions. The “organ energetics” approach is one popular approach that sprouted from recent developments in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The other is called the “channel energetics” approach that’s espoused by Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM). Among the two Chinese medicine systems, TCM is the more recent type (developed by the Communist Chinese government during the 1950s). TCM is not actually seen as a step forward but an abbreviated and oversimplified version of what Chinese medicine truly was before the communists came into power. During this time, China’s healthcare system was thrown into disarray and not enough practitioners were available to address the medical needs of the entire population. To address this shortage, the government truncated the apprenticeship training from ten years to three years of class room education that taught only less than half of the energetics of the body.

The body’s energetics is composed of more than 70 channels or meridians and 12 organ energetics that have their own specific energetics. TCM practitioners are only trained in just 12 organ energetics and fourteen meridians; that is, meridians connected to the twelve organs plus the two extra channels of Du and Ren. On the other hand, practitioners of CCM have been taught organ energetics plus the 70 plus recognized by Chinese medicine. In TCM, the signs and symptoms of a patient are deemed to be the result of organ energetics imbalances that can be rectified by restoring balance to the organ energetics. Organ energetics imbalances as well as the imbalances that occur in channel energetics are all recognized by CCM.

Why is it important to bring up these differences? Well, there are very fundamental dissimilarities in these approaches that transcend what has been already discussed here. Also, even though the TCM perspective of dysmenorrhea will be the one discussed here (since it is the one readers most usually read about), CCM needs to be mentioned in order for you to see how broad Chinese medicine really is and you not mistakenly believe that TCM is the entirety of Chinese medicine.

A healthy period, from the perspective of TCM, requires sufficient flow and volume of blood, aided by subtle energy or qi. The organ energetics meridians of the kidney, spleen, and liver as well as the Chong meridian energetics play a major role in a woman’s menstrual cycle. Liver qi, for example, aids in the smooth circulation of qi and blood. If emotional stress causes the stagnation of Liver, then blood cannot flow in sufficient amounts and this causes pain a day or two prior to menses. If there is stagnation in the Liver-blood, the menstruation will be accompanied by pain.

Chinese acupuncture based on TCM, basically strives to restore the smooth flow of qi and blood through the treatment of the Liver channel since it’s primarily aimed at the Liver channel that travels through the reproductive organs and genitalia. If a woman suffers from a TCM syndrome called “deficient blood,” acupuncture can be used to help transform her body resources into new blood. This is important because deficient blood implies there’s not enough blood in the body that can abet the smooth and even flow of blood resulting in sharp or dull pain.

Actually, dysmenorrhea and other gynecological conditions cannot be treated by Chinese medicine. What Chinese medicine actually does is restore and regulate the organ systems of the body and boost blood and qi flow in order to create an environment within the body that can set off the self-healing processes of the body. Chinese medicine practitioners adopt a naturalistic stance and after they conduct an exhaustive evaluation of the patient, arrange the signs and symptoms of a patient into basic patterns of imbalance. In a patient’s health presentation, there are usually multiple patterns of imbalance involved.

Patterns Associated with Dysmenorrhea Often Seen in TCM

1. Deficient Blood and Qi – Symptoms include dull pain felt during or after menses that improves with pressure and scanty menses.

2. Blood Stasis and Qi Stagnation – Pain that worsens with pressure during menses or starts before or at the first day of menses and dark-red blood with clots.

3. Deficient Yang caused by Cold in the Uterus –Pain during or post menses that improves with heat and scanty pale bleeding.

4. Deficient Kidney and Liver Yin – Pain in the lower stomach and scanty thin menses.

5. Damp-Cold in the Uterus – Pain prior to or during menses that improves with heat and worsens with pressure; low back pain; and scanty and dark menses.

6. Damp-Heat in the Lower Stomach – Burning pain during menses; pelvic inflammation; and bright-red or yellowish and strong-smelling menses.

Acupuncture treatments in Overland Park based on TCM typically involve the use of Chinese herbs, and lifestyle and dietary modifications.

The Rise In Popularity And Uses of Cupping Therapy

There are several modalities Chinese medicine uses to address specific health issues. The ones most commonly used include acupuncture, diet therapy, massage, and herbal medicine. Another Chinese medicine treatment known as cupping has recently gained enormous popularity due in large part to the recently concluded Rio Olympics that saw US swimmers sporting big red spots on their back and shoulders, spots that indicated their use of cupping therapy. Before that, some of you may have seen photos of Hollywood stars like Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, and yes, even Justin Bieber with the same bright purplish red spots.

The Chinese have been using cupping therapy for thousands of years. It was initially done using bamboo wood or cattle horns. To generate pressure inside the bamboo or horn, the ‘cups’ where either ignited with fire or boiled in water to remove the air and suck the cups to the skin. The cups were often used to treat boils by drawing out blood and pus. In the beginning, cupping was used as an adjunctive treatment for ancient Chinese surgery. Later on, practitioners have found it useful in remedying illnesses and it evolved into a unique healing technique.

The ancient book of Bo Shu written around the time of the Han Dynasty was the first to mention cupping therapy. It was also mentioned in several ancient texts later on. Hundreds of years later, another famous document, the medical text, Su Sen Liang Fang discussed cupping therapy as a potent treatment for chronic cough and a successful remedy for venomous snake bites.

Extensive clinical experience that has been amassed over tens of hundreds of years has led to the rise in popularity in cupping therapy’s several clinical applications. Presently, this modality is used to address specific skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema, indigestion issues, chronic cough, the common cold, asthma, and arthritic symptoms.

In China, there is a saying that goes “Greater than half of maladies cured through cupping and acupuncture in Pembroke Pines.” Over two centuries later after the Bo Shu was written, the book Ben Cong Gang Mu She Yi was compiled by a Chinese doctor named Zhao Xue Ming. This book depicted in detail the origin and history of the various forms of cup shapes and types of cupping as well as their applications and functions.

There has been a rapid development of cupping therapy in the Chinese mainland. Its effectiveness was validated in the 1950’s by Soviet acupuncturists and Chinese researchers and was made an official form of treatment for hospitals throughout China.

As more and more people are looking for alternative treatments to address their specific health issues, the use of cupping and other traditional Chinese medicine treatments is growing in popularity by the day. Almost all the techniques and tools used in cupping today are exactly the same as the ones used thousands of years ago. Today, suction cups are used and some mechanized or electronic pumps have been invented; but practically an overwhelming majority of cupping practitioners still uses glass, bamboo, or horn cups. With the exception of a few acupuncturists, the practice of cupping has essentially remained the same as in ancient times for the main reason that it is the de facto mode of treatment in rural communities where very little or no modern medicine is accessible.

Cupping targets the circulation of blood and vital energy (Qi). It draws out pathogenic elements such as heat, wind, damp, and cold and eliminates them. This treatment opens the skin pores and promotes the flow of Blood and Qi, accelerating the expulsion of pathogenic elements through the skin itself.

In a cupping procedure, the patient lies in a prone position in a bed or table. The acupuncturist first rubs the patient’s back with fragrant oil and the cups are then applied. The cups are heated and then placed in the back of the patient. The cups are firmly put in place and generate a suction effect on the skin. The acupuncturist moves the cups up and down on the patient’s back. The cups are left in their place for a certain amount of time then gently removed once the acupuncturist has determined enough time has passed for the treatment to take effect.

Oftentimes, the therapy provides immediate results. The bright purple suction cup marks that appear on the treated parts of the body vanish after a few days and so too will the patient’s condition.