Cupping Therapy, Part 6- Types and Styles

Types of cupping

  1. Weak or light cupping: This is just as it says, light and easy.  One pump or so, left for a short time, to begin the stimulation of the movement of the fluids.  This is great for first timers, children, the skeptical, and frail.


  1. Medium or strong cupping: As you work up to this level, you will see more stagnation and more movement of the fluids.  This is, in my opinion, the best technique.  You can work up to it either over multiple visits/treatments or during a treatment.  Basically an extension of weak cupping.


  1. Moving cupping: (Negative Pressure Massage) this is a great technique for muscle pain, and for stress care (Emotional, mental, spiritual or energetic).  Use the meridian charts to move the energy and stagnation out, as well as to enhance or reduce the flow of Qi energy.  You can use oils to help the cups slide across the skin.  It is difficult on bony areas and areas that are in corners etc… Finnish cups are either silicone or a form of latex that are flexible and work really well for muscle tightness.   You can also affect the myofascial system greatly with this technique.  Similar is a technique of pulling or moving the skin that is held under the cup.


  1. Needle or puncture cupping: Also called wet cupping.  In this technique, though, we are using cupping along with acupuncture and are only attempting to get one drop of blood.  This causes a healing event and can help the body with swelling and with chronic issues.  Proper technique requires good cleaning and sterile equipment.


  1. Moxa or hot cupping: Sometimes a piece of paper is set alight and placed in the cup.  Usually when the cup is placed on the body the paper burns away and sticks to the top of the cup.  It can burn the patient.  It can be infused paper with certain herbs, or have certain prayers of sayings written upon them to enhance more subtle healing.  I do not prefer this, as again we are playing with fire… on many levels.


  1. Empty or flash cupping: This is a misnomer really; it is very quick and repetitive to get some redness.  We are not leaving the cups on more than a couple moments.  Good for use on the face, and some areas that have lots of vascularity or lymph tissue.   This is also good for the very fatigued as it can increase Qi energy movement.


  1. Wet or bleeding cupping: Found typically in western medicine and Middle Eastern medicine.  Here, cuts are placed in the skin then the cups pull out the stagnant blood or morbid humors[1]… This is a big hazard for infection, but even so,  it is quite popular.  The blood needs to be properly discarded and cleaned.  I find it disagreeable and rather advanced.  I do not think I would have it done to me unless I was in a dire condition.


  1. Herbal cupping: Placing herbal liquids or tinctures in the cup can help deliver them into the tissues directly.  Works great with tinctures made with alcohol.  No burning is necessary.  We can do this one with the vacuum cups.  It can be messy and may cause some irritation on the skin.


  1. Water cupping: The cups are placed in very hot water and then placed on the body; this heat transfer causes the vacuum phenomenon.  It is primarily used with either horn or bamboo cups.  We do not use it because it can also burn the person as well as create a wet mess.


  1. Fire cupping: This involves the use of spirits such as rubbing alcohol as the fuel.  The fuel is rubbed inside the cup and set alight, then the cup is placed on the body.  The fire depletes the oxygen in the cup and creates a vacuum and suction.  We do not do this type of cupping for a few reasons.  First of all, fire burns stuff.  The cup can become hot and can burn the skin or scorch the skin.  It only allows for a single application per cup at a time.  You cannot easily adjust the suction.  This is perhaps one of the oldest ways to cup.

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