With the start of the Olympic Games, "cupping", a special treatment of TCM, has become very popular to the world. An american gymnast even called it more effective than any other kinds of treatment.Cupping therapy, with a history of about two thousand years, is widely accepted. It is used to prevent and cure diseases, with a jar attached to the skin surface to cause local congestion through the negative pressure formed by combustion of oxygen in the jar. The cupping tool has developed from animal horn to bamboo, pottery and glass jar.
Fifty Two Remedies (Wu Shi Er Bing Fang) uncovered from Mawangdui tomb in Changsha city (China) recorded that cupping therapy was mainly used to treat sore and ulcer by evacuating pus to expel toxins. With the development of clinical practice, the cupping tool and manipulation have been improved and the indications are extended. Cupping, together with acupuncture and moxibustion make up three important parts of acupuncture in general sense.
Cupping is not a cure-all solution. For instance it is contraindicated for febrile convulsions. Lumbosacral regions of pregnant women or of women after labor, diabrotic or wounded skin, and any place where major vessels travel through should be avoided.
Exerting physical stimulation and negative pressure on the body, cupping is usually considered to promote circulation of blood, boost essential qi, and regulate qi and blood, which help strengthen immunity. Usually the jar stamp after cupping will disappear in 5-7 days.
Colors of jar stamps are affected by patient’s constitution, size of jars, duration of jar retention, the practitioner’s manipulation, and etc. The colors can be dark purple, crimson, red or light red. In terms of the meaning of colors, in my opinion, they can only serve as references for diagnosis; the four diagnostic methods of Chinese medicine and patient’s constitution, symptoms and signs are essential factors when making diagnosis.
The duration of jar retention is determined according to the size of jars, mostly 5 minutes for large jars and 10 minutes for small ones. It is optimal that, after cupping, patients feel comfortable and there is no blister on the local skin. Frequency of cupping is determined on the basis of patient’s conditions and usually once a week is appropriate.