Sunday, July 09, 2006

Cupping with Fire

Since my first lesson, I have been a big fan of fire cupping. It is powerful, dramatic, and can leave marks that may have friends lifting eyebrows and inquiring if everything is okay at home. While most of the press dedicated to cupping focuses on it's use for pain management, I have to interject it is a first-rate modality for preventing the progression of a cold. At the first sniffle or scratch in the throat, I reach for the plum-blossom hammer, my fire cups, some Po sum On oil and my jade Gua Sha stone. These tools can knock out a wind-cold invasion before it has a chance to knock the client out. Not to mention, it feels really good. I have found that while they can be cumbersome, glass cupping is the most versatile as you can perform multiple techniques that are impossible with plastic suction and, unlike bamboo styles, you are able to see the strength and effectiveness of the suction during the treatment. It was brought to my attention several years ago that cupping is not exclusive to China and has been practiced in Mexico for centuries as well; the article below also reports its use in the Middle East. Fire away!

Cupping runneth over By LEIGH WOOSLEY

Alternative treatment for pain is drawing attention

Bearing marks on your back bigger than silver dollars may not seem all that healing, but it is for many people who have taken to Chinese fire cupping, an ancient, though somewhat offbeat, practice that supposedly releases toxins that cause aches, pains and irregularity in the body.
It's often an alternative or an addition to traditional acupuncture treatment and commonly is used to treat soreness, stiffness, pain and breathing problems such as bronchitis. It's used for other ailments, as well.

Here's how cupping is done. Glass, bell-shaped cups are heated, usually with an open flame to remove all the oxygen. The flame is swirled around the cup and immediately put on the body.

As the cup cools, it creates a sort of vacuum that sucks the skin into the cup. This suction causes blood vessels to expand and is supposed to release toxins from beneath the skin so they can be excreted from the body.

The cup stays on the skin for five to 15 minutes and leaves behind obvious red marks that can last a couple of weeks.

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