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  • Dr. Lisabeth Detwiler, DOM

Cupping Therapy Explained

A lot of people are curious about cupping therapy, so we wanted to take a moment to explain what the heck it is! Cupping is the application of suction cups to the body. Here at Zentral we primarily use "fire cupping"--we take a special, thick glass cup and insert a flame which warms and expands the air inside. When we remove the flame and place the cup against your skin, the air cools and contracts, pulling your skin and superficial muscles up into the cup. We often put oil on the skin which allows us to slide the cups around to focus on different areas. Most people think it feels amazing!

So, aside from feeling great, what are the health benefits?

In Chinese medicine, we recognize that a major cause of pain and/or disease is a lack of proper circulation. Qi ("chee" energy) and blood circulate through the channels and tissues. If that circulation is compromised, qi and blood can stagnate in an area causing pain and dysfunction. Cupping helps to move devitalized qi and blood out, allowing healthy, nutritive, vital qi and blood to profuse the area. Cupping also stimulates acupuncture points. There are a large number of acupuncture points on the back (over 160!), including a special category of points called the "back-shu points." The back-shu points correspond with each of the internal organs (Lung-Shu, Liver-Shu, Heart-Shu, etc). By stimulating these points with cupping, it can help to harmonize your entire organ system! Due to the tensile stress caused by the negative pressure, cupping often produces marks. These transient therapeutic petechiae (cupping marks) are areas where blood has left the the capillaries and leaked into the subcutis (tissues beneath the skin). When this happens, it triggers your body to upregulate gene expression for an enzyme, heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1). The job of HO-1 is to essentially remove the iron from old blood cells to be recycled in the body and turned into new blood cells. HO-1 was first identified in 1968, and over the years it has been shown to be anti-oxidant, cytoprotectant, and hepatoprotectant. It regulates the immune system and reduces inflammation (which can reduce musculoskeletal pain and benefit inflammatory conditions, such as fever, cough, asthma, inflammatory bowel conditions, and more)! This means that cupping can reduce pain, boost your immune system, and support your natural detox systems! All of our amazing staff members offer cupping either as a stand alone appointment or added onto an acupuncture or massage appointment!

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