Toni Haugen of Queen City Acupuncture discusses the holistic treatment
Photos by kc kratt
Cupping therapy was introduced to many during the 2016 Olympic Games when Michael Phelps swam for gold wearing cupping’s tell-tale purple circles on his back and shoulder. Since then, cupping marks have been seen on the bodies of toned Hollywood celebs, professional athletes, and fitness enthusiasts everywhere. Although cupping may seem like a trend for the elite, the technique is actually an ancient medicinal therapy that dates back to Arabic cultures some 5,000 years ago, and is used as a holistic treatment for a number of ailments.
Toni Haugen, licensed acupuncturist and owner of Queen City Acupuncture, answered questions on the subject.
What does cupping therapy consist of?
First, the client receives a Chinese medical diagnosis in order for the therapy to be administered properly. Next, we find the associated meridians or muscle groups corresponding with the diagnosis. Then we create a vacuum by inserting a lighted alcohol pad into a cup, which builds pressure, and apply it to the skin at the appropriate points. Pneumatic cups can also be used; they create their own pressure and do not require the use of fire. The cups stay on for about thirty seconds in order to not harm skin or blood vessels. That way, we are only treating the ailment and are as least invasive as possible. A dark circle is left on the skin at the treatment site.
How does it work?
Cupping uses suction to create negative pressure in the periphery of the body. That pressure promotes circulation and the opening up of lymphatic pathways promoting fluid circulation and redistribution.
What are the most frequent reasons clients seek cupping therapy?
I would say pain is the number one reason, especially in the back, shoulders, hips, and IT bands. Other common reasons include bronchial conditions, including the common cold, acne and skin disorders, and anxiety and depression.
How long do the effects of the treatment last?
It depends on the person. The longer you have had the ailment for which you are being treated, the longer the treatment is necessary. Recent injuries can be relieved in as little as one treatment. Typically, the frequency of treatments is weekly over a period of three to five weeks.
How long do the cupping marks remain on the skin?
Three to seven days.
Does the treatment hurt?
The most common response I hear is that it feels good and that people feel a great sense of relief.
How long does the treatment take?
The appointment lasts between forty-five to sixty minutes when combined with acupuncture or acupressure, which is highly advised for optimal results.
Are there any side effects?
Light-headedness can occur, so we always advise people to eat before. We will not cup people who show any contraindications such as weakness, vulnerable or rashed skin, or anyone receiving chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
I know there are other forms of cupping; can you explain them?
What we most often use is dry cupping as I just explained. Wet cupping involves making an incision in the skin to remove blood and should only be performed by a licensed acupuncturist and is only performed when a serious illness is present. Sliding cupping uses only one cup. A liniment or oil is applied to the skin and the cup is slowly moved over the body while suctioned. Sliding cupping is very useful in the treatment of orthopedic pain and very effective for treating back spasms.
What advice do you have for anyone considering cupping therapy?
Don’t be afraid! Also, never hesitate to ask your practitioner questions, no matter what they may be. Lastly, keep hydrated after your therapy, no alcohol consumption for eight to twelve hours, and keep your skin covered from wind and cold for twenty-four hours.
Holly Metz Doyle writes for Buffalo Rising and other publications.