Cupping therapy or more commonly known as “ventosa”, is an ancient form of therapy, developed thousand of years ago, wherin local suction is created on the skin. Suction can either be created using fire (heat) or mechanical device (electric pump) using cups. Cups can be made from earthenware, glass, plastic or bamboo.
Through the years, techniques have modernized but philosophy remains the same. The main purpose of cupping is to enhance circulation, remove toxins and to relieve pain.
There are two types of cupping namely dry cupping and wet cupping. Dry cupping is done by creating a suction on particular points on patient’s body using either heat (fire) or vacuum to tug the skin upwards. Fire cupping involves soaking a cotton ball in alcohol using a clamp then lit it via match or lighter. The flaming cotton ball is placed into the cup, quickly removed, and the cup is then placed on the skin. By adding fire inside the cup, oxygen is removed which is replaced with an equal amount of carbon dioxide and suction is created by air cooling down again and contracting. Sometimes, massage oil or petroleum jelly may be applied to create a better seal as well as to allow the cups to smoothly glide over the muscles such as the trapezius and the lastisimus.
This is also called the “moving cupping”. While wet cupping is done similarly, with one additional step. After applying dry cupping, the practitioner performs tiny cuts using sterile three-pronged needles on the raised area to allow for the elimination of toxic blood and fluids. After which another cup is placed on the same area to suck up the blood.
Skin markings are common after the cups are removed. These discolorations are caused by ruptured capillaries just under the skin and disappear in a few days.