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Cupping is an ancient Chinese, Asian and African method of causing local congestion. A partial vacuum is created in cups placed on the skin either by means of heat or suction. This draws up the underlying tissues. When the cup is left in place on the skin for a few minutes, blood stasis is formed and localized healing takes place.
Original practitioners of cupping used animal horns, leading to the reference 'horn treatment' in some sources. These horns would be heated briefly with matches or paper and placed directly on a patient's Traditional Acupuncture points or source of pain. The heated air inside the horn would create a low pressure area, drawing the skin inside. Later practitioners use cups made from bamboo or clay, but the basic technique remains the same.
Cupping therapy has been further developed as a means to open the 'Meridians' of the body. Meridians are the conduits in the body through which energy flows to every part of the body and through every organ and tissue. There are five Meridians on the back that, when opened, allow invigorating energy to travel the whole lenth of the body. It has been found that cupping is probably the best weay of opening those meridians.
Cupping creates a series of blood-infused raised sections on a patient's flesh. It is believed that this creates a negative energy flow which can counteract the current state of stagnation. Cupping has been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries, activate the skin. Cupping creates significant bruising directly under the cups themselves. We use lubricants to allow the cups to be moved across the patient's body, although never across bony structures such as the spine.
During the 20th century, specially-designed glass cups generally replaced the less reliable bamboo and pottery cups. Bamboo tends to weaken over time, especially when combined with steam used to create 'wet energy'. Ceramic cups tend to break easily, especially during treatments. Glass cups provide a sturdy material and a smoother surface for the gliding form of cupping.