Traditional Chinese Medical Treatments


Cupping is a fascinating therapy in which a special cup or jar is attached to the skin by means of suction. The suction is created by heating the air inside the cup to create a vacuum, then quickly pressing the mouth of the cup to the desired area. There are also modern cups that can be applied with a suction device.

Interestingly, cultures all over the world are known to use this technique, making it virtually a universal practice. In ancient times, it was done with bamboo cups or animal horns, and it was often employed to treat external conditions of the skin and muscles such as sprains and strains and drawing out pus. It is especially effective for musculoskeletal pain, often relieving the pain after a single application.

The force of the suction draws stagnant blood to the surface of the body, sometimes leaving a round bruise in the shape of the cup. Since pain is caused by the stagnation of qi and blood, the goal of this therapy is to remove the stagnation, increase circulation, and allow healing to take place.

Cupping should not be used when the patient has broken skin, skin ulcers, edema, high fever, bleeding disorders, varicose veins, or convulsions. It should also not be performed on the abdomen or low back of a woman who is pregnant. Care needs to be taken to avoid burning the patient with a hot cup; using the cups with the suction device eliminates this potential problem.

While cupping is common to many cultures throughout the world, it is not as well known as many of the other traditional Chinese medical treatments -- exercise, for instance. Learn more about how exercise plays a part in traditional Chinese medicine in the next section of this article.

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