What is cupping?

Written by Endeavour College of Natural Health | 26 September, 2022

Cupping on a person's back

The history of cupping

Cupping is an ancient practice that dates back to early Chinese, Middle Eastern and Egyptian times. You know Hippocrates, the father of medicine? He advocated for cupping as a treatment for specific physical conditions including gynaecological, digestive, respiratory, back, lung and ear ailments. Elite athletes are often advocates of cupping as it may be used to reduce muscular pain, relax tendons, improve range of motion, and assist with the recovery of injuries.

Cupping was recorded as a medical treatment in the Chinese Mawangdui Silk texts which were sealed back in 168BC – and in the first century AD, the Greek philosopher Celsus advised cupping therapy for extracting poison from bites and for abscesses. Back then, cupping might have been performed with cattle horns or bamboo, but it’s more likely to be a glass or silicone cup these days.

What does a cupping treatment involve?

Cupping involves the placement of cups or vessels on the skin to create suction, sometimes using heat. In Chinese medicine, the aim of cupping is to move qi (or energy) around the body and promote the flow of blood to prevent stagnation. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients around our body, so good circulation is vital for the healing process and our overall health.

Depending on the concern, marks may appear as pale pink, red, purple, or almost black. For Chinese medicine practitioners, these marks offer a window into what might be happening inside. Dark markings tend to indicate stagnation, light markings may indicate a deficiency, while spots might suggest some congestion or toxins. According to Chinese medicine, a rosy circle is a good indicator of healthy circulation.

If you’re considering a cupping treatment, it’s worth noting that the marks usually last 4-10 days. While the marks may look sore, cupping isn’t a painful procedure – in fact, it can be quite relaxing, like a massage. At the time, you will feel a tight squeeze, followed by a release, which creates a sense of relaxation and can leave the skin feeling supple.

You can try cupping as part of a Chinese medicine treatment at your local Endeavour Wellness Clinic, which offer affordable natural health treatments (from $35 a consult) in major cities.

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Endeavour College of Natural Health

Endeavour College of Natural Health is Australia's largest Higher Education provider of natural medicine courses.

The College is known as the centre of excellence for natural medicine and is respected for its internationally recognised academic teams and high calibre graduates. Endeavour offers Bachelor of Health Science degrees in Naturopathy, Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, Acupuncture Therapies and Chinese Medicine, Undergraduate Certificates, a Diploma of Health Science and massage courses.

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