Cupping invigorates local circulation in the area being treated, resolving swelling, pain, and tension. By drawing impurities to the surface, it removes toxins. From a Western physiology perspective, cupping loosens connective tissue or fascia and stimulated blood flow to the surface. Cupping stimulates tissue relaxation and better cell-to-cell communication. The research of U.S. physiologist and acupuncturist Helene Langevin has documented cell-level changes using an ultrasound camera. Cupping is shown to relax tissue and reduce markers of inflammation. Inflammatory cytokines (chemical messengers) are reduced, and cytokines that promote healing and relaxation are increased.
Cupping frequently causes marks on the skin. This is due to bringing blood to the surface, similar to a bruise. For patients with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia or who are being treated with anticoagulants, cupping may not be the best treatment option. People with these conditions should discuss the pros and cons of treatment with their doctor before receiving cupping. Cupping should not be performed on skin sites with active inflammation, burns, infection, or open wounds. Some discomfort can occur but should not be considered a side effect. Moderate, temporary discomfort is expected as stagnation is removed and connective tissue and muscles are loosened.
How long do cupping bruises last?
The bruises for cupping can last for a few days up to two weeks. It is expected that over several weeks of repeated cupping treatments the bruising will decrease as the circulation and healing improves. This indicates a successful result of a cupping treatment protocol.