Therapeutic Cupping, part 2

Application and practice of Cupping Therapy

Determine the goals of cupping. Make sure you and the person receiving the cupping understand the time it may take to get the desired result.  Try to become clear on the desired result and ascertain if it is attainable.  Then look up the points where cupping would be most useful.  Generally, the most painful areas are a good start.  You can get very complex with cupping and have the body look like a pepperoni pizza and get no real benefit.

Place the cups, then hold them in place with one hand.  Using the other hand, hold the pump gun, and place the end on the tip of the cup valve.  Without pushing or pulling the cup, and maintaining a good seal from skin to cup, pump two times to get the skin to rise.  (This of course depends on the style of cupping you are doing.)  You can then change the suction with the cup by changing the valve to release the vacuum and then reapplying the pump to ‘fine’ tune.

Check in one minute or so to see if there is any skin color change.  If not, consider more pumps.  You can pump a lot; I like to consider the comfort of the person receiving cupping.  Allow the cups to remain:

About 5 minutes for children

About 10 minutes for youth/adolescents and young adults.

About 5 minutes for women that are pregnant or menstruating (check precaution)

Use longer depending on what your goals are.  Severe pain requires more.

Generally you should do less in the summer months, as the skin sweats and can better clean itself. Less stagnation occurs, if the patient gets out and gets movement and sweats.


In the winter the skin is contracted and can take longer to get a good result.  It may take more visits.


After the treatment is complete, pull up the tab releasing the vacuum.  Remove the cup and clean immediately.  If there is difficulty removing the cup, use a finger to press the skin next to the cup to release the suction, letting the cup become free of the skin.


If there is bleeding in the cup:   Make sure you have alcohol and tissues to clean.  Surround the cup with some tissues before you remove it as the blood may flow.  Consider the flow pattern.  Make sure to not get any of the blood on you.  Use rubber gloves and consider it a toxic spill.  Be careful!  Discard that blood by flushing down the toilet.  Make sure and soak the cups involved in alcohol and soapy water, wash them well and dry well before putting back in the case.






Removing the cups:

With the vacuum cups, simply pull the tab at the top while holding the cup in place.  Sometimes if you do not hold the cup in place it will be uncomfortable.  Pulling the orange tab will release the negative pressure vacuum inside the cup and allow it to easily be removed from the skin. (See Diagram).














If the cup still is stuck, gently tilt the cup to the side and press with the other hand toward the cup on the skin next to the cup (See Diagram).  It will pop loose.  Notice there will be a whole new pattern you will see.  There is the bulge that will remain for a few minutes to an hour.  This is where the cup pulled the skin.  Then around that there will be a purplish ring, or gully. (See Diagram) This also will disappear in a few minutes to an hour.   The gully is not too significant therapeutically, so ignore it for now.










Finally around all of that will be the red flash, if any.  This was the histamine response from the skin, due to the pulling of the skin around the cup lip.  If any of these last more than an hour it is likely that the patient is dehydrated and/or has severe stagnation.






Treatment times and plans:

In general the time for one single treatment really need only be about 5 minutes.  That is about as long as it takes to really see the result of the cupping.  I do three pumps for the first visit, and after five minutes can add a pump or two if no results comes up.  Once you have added a pump or two wait another five minutes.


With cupping and massage, you can use moving cupping to start and then use some good oil to get more of the fluids going by doing some effleurage and light petrissage.  After doing a few minutes of massage go back to stationary cupping to bring up deeper fluids.


How often can you treat?

You can treat daily but not on the same spots.  With each moderately stagnant spot wait until it has changed to at least the yellow or brownish color before cupping there again.   This generally takes about 4 days.  If you are looking to treat a very large area, use the moving cupping to achieve this.


With any treatment there is a duration of care.  If you are receiving no result after three or so treatments go on to another modality.  Try scraping or try heating the body well before the cupping.  Some people are not suited for cupping.  This depends on their personal preference, age, their constitution and disease processes they are experiencing.    There are many reasons for this which we will discuss in the workshop itself.


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