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Cupping

Cupping is an ancient technique used in traditional Chinese medicine to stimulate acupuncture points or larger areas of the body. It is often practised alongside acupuncture but can also be a ‘stand-alone’ treatment.

The technique involves creating a vacuum inside round glass or bamboo cups by inserting a naked flame and removing it, then placing the cup quickly onto the area to be treated before the vacuum is lost. The cups are then left in place for anything up to 20 minutes.

If large areas of the body need treating, a technique known as ‘sliding cups’ is used. A thin layer of massage oil is spread over the skin; the cups are placed onto the body in the normal way and then slid along the muscles being treated. This helps the blood and qi to flow more easily in stagnated areas.

Cupping is not painful but can leave slightly red patches on the skin, like circular bruises. Although these marks resemble bruises, the muscles have not been traumatized in any way. The redness on the skin indicates that there has been movement in the circulation of blood under and around the cups. Not all cupping treatments will result in redness as this depends on the complaint being addressed.

Cupping should be carried out by a properly trained practitioner, as there are contraindications for its use. 

 

Ms. Ting Wang

  • Member of British Acupuncture Council (BAcC)
  • Clinician in Neurology department, Heilongjiang University of TCM Hospital
  • MSc. in Chinese Medicine (Acupuncture), London South Bank University
  • BSc. in Clinical Discipline of Chinese and Western Integrative, Heilongjiang University of TCM

                           

What you should know?

Acupuncture rarely ‘hurts‘. The most that people experience is a dull ache around the base of the inserted needle, or a slight tingling feeling when the needle is inserted. Points at the extremities, like toe or finger ends, can sometimes be a little sharp, but the sensation is usually brief.

Acupuncture is extremely safe if delivered by adequately trained practitioners. The most frequent side-effects are mild and include: minor bruising or bleeding, usually on needle withdrawal (3%), worsening of existing symptoms (1%) which usually lasts no more than two days and is sometimes associated with a good overall outcome; drowsiness, relaxation, or euphoria (3%) which is often experienced as pleasurable (and if so is not an adverse event!), and pain at the needling site (1%). Severe, extremely rare side-effects include a puncture lung or heart membrane (this is avoided by correct technique); transmission of blood-borne diseases (e.g. hepatitis C), avoided by using single-use, sterile, disposable needles, and skin infection (which is possible with ear acupuncture, particularly if indwelling studs are used).s

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  • City of London & West London

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