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Cupping therapy – a Chinese form of alternative medicine

Some of our interns at InternChina told me about their experience in cupping. Some of them told me weird things. For example, that it left them with circles on their back, which intrigued me to find out more about cupping.
First of all, for all those who want to a know how cupping is said in Chinese and would like a new word for their vocabulary list, here you go: 火眐, huǒguĂ n.

I did some research and found out that cupping is an alternative medicine, which originates from China. The goal for the whole process is to create a local suction on the skin of the patient. Practitioners believe, it helps with blood flow which will promote healing. It’s often used to treat the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis.

The cupping method is famous to stimulate skin functions and the metabolism of the connective tissue. As I read on some cosmetic websites, it improves the circulation to the collagen and elastic fibres, activates cell metabolism and strengthens the immune system.

InternChina – One of our Interns experiencing cupping

The method in detail

Cupping therapy can be done on the back, neck and shoulders. And afterwards, you will be left with round red bruised skin that is slightly raised.  A partial vacuum is created under the cups by the use of heat and then placed onto the skin. In general there are two different types: dry cupping or fire cupping. I will try to explain both of them as simple and short as possible.

Dry cupping   

A low air pressure is required which can be created by heating the cup or the air inside it with an open fire or a bath of hot fragrant oil. Once the pressure is produced, it will be place against the skin. When the air inside the cups cools, it drags the skin slightly inside. In practice, cups are usually placed on softer tissues, as they can form a good seal. As the picture shows, using a lot of cups can cover a larger area.

InternChina – Cupping

Fire cupping

For fire cupping a cotton ball is soaked in alcohol and then set on fire. It is placed into a cup to heat it up and then quickly removed to place the cup onto the skin, as the cup needs to be placed on the skin as quick as possible. As a next step, fire will be added continuously inside the cup, thus removing the oxygen creating a suction.

How often should cupping been done?

Users recommend to go for cupping regularly. What exact intervals depend on the severity of the patient’s condition. But as our Office Manager has said towards new arrivals in our InternChina office, that you must try everything twice in China. But keep in mind, cupping is not advised to the abdominal or special regions of pregnant women’s. And don’t be anxious about the spots, they should disappear in 2 to 5 days. However, the more marks you get, the more toxins will be removed. Last but not least, please make sure you go to a licensed acupuncturist.

InternChina – Two of our interns after cupping

After all my inquiries, I promised myself I would try each procedure once, during my stay in China.

Would you like to join later this year or experience this method as well? Apply now for an internship or send us an email for more information!