Ever since Rio was selected as the summer Olympics site, the news media has been full of health-related travel warnings, mostly due to the Zika virus. But when Olympic athletes like Michael Phelps started sporting circular purple bruises, the warnings and rumors got worse.
As it turned out, those purple bruises were a sign of healing, not illness. The bruises arise after a session of Chinese medicine called “cupping.”
Phelps and many of his fellow Olympians turn to cupping to quickly restore optimal circulation, muscle relaxation and physical performance. Since they keep bringing home medals, it seems to be working!
The best news is that cupping isn’t a healing art reserved just for Olympians or celebrities (Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston are also known to use cupping). Anyone can enjoy the health benefits of cupping, including these 13 truly magnificent benefits you are about to read about!
How Cupping’s Ancient Healing Power Works
According to WebMD, cupping has been in use since 1,550 B.C. As recently as 2012, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) published study results indicating cupping deserves closer study as an effective treatment for pain and other health issues.
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Cupping gets its name from the main “tools of the trade” – the cups. Cups can be made of glass, bamboo or plastic. There are several techniques for cup placement, but all draw the skin up into the inner cup, promoting relaxation, better circulation and what practitioners like to call “inverse massage.”
13 Marvelous Benefits of Cupping Therapy That Can Help You Heal
Now read on to learn about 13 of the best benefits of cupping therapy!
Benefit 1: Relief from pain.
The American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) reports that as many as 100 million Americans suffer from chronic pain. Evidence now supports the use of cupping to lessen chronic pain. The cups stretch the tissues to reduce stiffness and ease pain.
Benefit 2: Relief from allergies and asthma.
To date, allergies are listed as the 6th most common chronic ailment in America. Evidence exists that cupping has been used to treat allergies and respiratory issues for over 3,000 years! Cupping can also be a great option for children since it is non-invasive.
Benefit 3: Relaxation and de-stressing.
In today’s hectic culture, who doesn’t need stress relief? Cupping’s unique “inverse massage” effect provides very specific relaxation to muscle and tissue groups that are critical to relief but often overlooked by more general therapies.
For example, cupping the area near the shoulder (such as the areas where Olympian Michael Phelps’ cup marks were placed) can ease both neck and back pain.
Benefit 4: Detoxification.
Even if you eat the cleanest possible diet, toxins abound in our common air and water supplies. Cupping can detoxify your body right at the level of the skin and blood supply, sloughing off dead skin cells and immediately carrying unwanted toxins out of the body via the blood stream and circulatory system.
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Benefit 5: Reduction in inflammation.
Inflammation can be specific to a muscle or tissue group or more general. Cupping helps reduce inflammation by improving circulation to the area that hurts. As the blood flows in, new vessels are created to bring healing oxygen and nutrients to the wound.
Benefit 6: Clearer, smoother skin.
Much has been made of new modern skin treatments, but the truth is that sometimes the best medicine is time-tested ancient medicine. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cupping is now thought to deliver more effective results for acne and blemishes than even antibiotics!
Benefit 7: Cellulite reduction.
If there is one issue that most Americans would like to fix about their bodies, it would have to be cellulite, that lumpy, bumpy surface layer of skin that no amount of dieting or exercise seems to reduce. Cupping, by reducing fluid build-up and sloughing off dead skin, can create smoother skin.
Benefit 8: Anti-aging benefits.
It seems like every day there is a new “miracle cure” to slow down (or stop) the aging process. But cupping has been in use for centuries for just this reason. Smoother, clearer, detoxified skin shows wrinkles and scars less and just looks younger.
Benefit 9: Relief from digestive upset.
Everyone has experienced the misery that is digestive upset. One of the primary ways cupping reduces digestive upset is through reducing stress and promoting relaxation (this makes it particularly effective for chronic stress-based conditions like IBS).
Benefit 10: Reduction in carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms.
For anyone who has ever felt the shooting, stabbing pain of carpal tunnel syndrome, you may already be running to the phone to make your first cupping appointment. The Journal of Pain reports that just one session can significantly reduce symptoms.
Benefit 11: Faster healing from colds and flu.
Cupping is particularly effective at helping to dislodge and drain mucus and phlegm from the sinuses and respiratory system. At the same time, cupping can boost immune response to promote overall faster healing.
Benefit 12: Relief from migraine headaches.
Migraine headaches can be notoriously difficult to treat, and what works for one person often won’t work for another person. But according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), cupping has shown a positive reduction of migraine headache pain and symptoms over time.
Benefit 13: Reduction in back and neck pain.
The Mayo Clinic reports that back pain is one of the most common health problems for people today. Science Direct published a study results that indicate cupping is an effective means to find immediate relief from chronic pain, including back pain and neck pain.
What to Expect During Your First Cupping Session
No matter how much you need and want to experience cupping treatment, you may experience a small amount of trepidation before your very first cupping appointment. Don’t worry – this is totally normal! And there is nothing to worry about. Cupping is completely safe and most people even report enjoying their treatments.
The typical appointment will last 20 to 30 minutes. You can ask any questions you have before your session begins. Typically you will wear a gown and will lay down on a massage-type table for your treatment. Depending on the area to be treated and your reason for the appointment, a bit of oil may be applied to the skin first.
The cups may be placed at stationary points or the practitioner may move them around on your body. The number of cups placed on your body will depend on what area of your body is being treated and what you are being treated for.
Cupping’s Mainstream Use Grows
As Western and Eastern medicine practices move closer and closer towards finding a common middle ground, ancient and effective practices such as cupping will likely enjoy even wider acceptance.
Cupping is actually a form of acupuncture, and acupuncture is now used in many hospitals and clinics today to help speed healing after surgical procedures and during rehabilitation from injuries. So perhaps it won’t be long before cupping is being used in a similarly widespread way!
And remember, you don’t need to tackle every health or pain issue you have all at once. Just pick one area where you really need relief, such as back pain or allergies, and try cupping.
Note how you feel before and after your treatment. If, as so many people do, you feel relief, you can try it again and just take it one step at a time!