Cupping Therapy

cupping-suctioninactionCupping is a therapy that has been practiced for millenia throughout Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and regions of South America. Ancient Egyptians and Greeks, including Galen, Avicenna (Ibn Sina), and Hippocrates, were great advocates of cupping and used it for many types of disease, as well as for preserving health.

Cupping was also used by doctors throughout Western Europe and America from the 1700s to early 1900s.  After declining in use by modern physicians for nearly 100 years, it is now becoming known again among the North American public.

By creating a vacuum of reduced oxygen within a cup over the skin, tissue is drawn into the cup, acting on tissue up to 4 inches within the body, drawing toxins and old stagnant blood from deep within the body to the surface below the skin layers.

There are several methods of cupping that can be done using cups made from various materials.  They originate from two main methods – “dry” cupping and “wet” cupping.  No matter which method is used, cupping strongly activates Qi (vital energy) and blood.  

Compared to dry cupping, wet cupping is the fastest, most effective method to move congestion and sluggishness in the body.

Using plastic cups, Dr. Ling provides wet cupping for 3 reasons:

1. Client request (request must still meet the need according to TCM diagnosis).

2. It stimulates Qi and blood flow for more immediate results than acupuncture or herbal medicine. It can dramatically decrease the number of sessions a client would typically require if only receiving acupuncture or herbs.

3. She finds it to be the most clinically effective method for treating acute and chronic pain, and many other conditions (see below).

livepainfree“Wet” cupping is a type of controlled bloodletting by making multiple shallow pinpricks into the skin with a specialized lancet needling device.  The sensation feels like mosquito bites.

The principle of wet cupping is simple: when the body’s systems get clogged up faster than it can eliminate blockage, then over time, pain and disease manifest or worsen.  

The analogy she uses to describe it is that “it is like removing a plug from a dam of congested energy. The size of the plug corresponds to how big the dam is and how stagnant the water is in that dam. By removing an appropriate size plug using wet cupping, new, oxygenated blood can then move into the area, supplying a boost of nutrition and healing.”

For safety reasons, Dr. Ling only wet cups 3 to 6 specific areas of the body in any one session, depending on the client’s constitutional strength and comfort level.  After the session, marks may be tender for 24-48 hours and clients are advised to take hot baths with epsom or himalayan bath salts. Marks disappear within 3-15 days, depending on the level of toxicity and efficiency of the lymphatic system.

Wet cupping is a unique service provided by Dr. Ling.  Along with applying other methods of cupping, she uses wet cupping therapy for:

* acute and chronic pain
* systemic whole-body detoxification
* activation of lymphatic drainage system
* improving cardiovascular and pulmonary circulation for greater oxygenation of tissues
* immune system boosting
* relieving stress
* local area healing due to physical traumas or sports injuries
* improving athlete performance (recreational, competitive and high-performance levels)
* skin rejuvenation
* whole health rejuvenation
* neutralizing emotions of anger, fear, worry, grief, and tendency to oscillate between hyperactive joy and fear or anger (because emotions are understood to be carried in the blood)


Wet cupping is effective for people wanting relief and a long-term solution for:

Arthritis, lower back pain, acute & chronic pain, chest & nasal congestion, shortness of breath, eczema, acne, gout, alcohol dependency, stiff neck/shoulders, common cold/flu/fever, depression, menstrual cramps, PMS, asthma, idiopathic ischemic heart pain, frozen shoulder, post-stroke hemiplegia, joint sprains, minor bone fractures, anxiety attacks, fibromyalgia, digestive disorders, hair loss, skin purpura, benign red dots on skin (angiomas, hemangiomas), sciatica, flank pain, varicose veins, sharpening athletic performance, etc.

It is important to note that whenever toxic, stagnant blood is removed, the body needs proper nutrition to produce fresh healthy replacement blood and 14-30 days should be given between each wet cupping session to allow for this.  Dr. Ling takes great care to well-advise clients how to use a nourishing diet and lifestyle following each session of wet cupping.  And clients also have the option to take prescribed herbal medicine to assist with faster nourishment.


What types of cases are not suitable for wet cupping?

Each case is unique and wet cupping is not suitable for everyone.  In Dr. Ling’s assessment with the client of his/her health, one principle used to determine suitability is whether a person’s constitution and condition presents as mainly deficient or mainly excess.  Those that show deficiency more than excess would not be suitable candidates for wet cupping.

For example, Dr. Ling does not perform wet cupping therapy for individuals who have pure deficiency conditions such as is seen with anemia, anorexia, chronic diarrhea, post-delivery or breastfeeding women, or post-surgery patients.  It is also not at all suitable for pregnant women, those with bleeding disorders like hemophilia, or with a pacemaker, or on strong blood-thinning medications (like plavix, but daily baby aspirin is fine).  

In some deficiency cases, she instead applies light dry cupping or “moving” cupping (works like a deep tissue massage).

Whether wet cupping, acupuncture, herbal medicine, or medical Qigong is applied, each treatment is tailored to meet the specific needs of clients at every stage of their health.

For more information on cupping, see article on The Basics of Cupping Therapy as well as articles in Research and Cupping – All Types.

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