Living in Asia for the last year and a half opened my eyes to a whole new world of healing and balanced living through alternative medicine and Eastern holistic practices. From Hong Kong to Japan, wellness and overall harmony is a top priority among locals; staying in tune with their bodies through daily physical activity, a balanced diet, and frequent holistic treatments. With every street corner comes a wellness center, foot reflexology spa, or a Chinese herb shop. I have always been one to enjoy yoga and treat myself to an occasional massage. However, I never understood the true benefits of alternative medicine until my body turned on me.
From teaching kindergarten in Hong Kong for a year, I developed chronic pain in my neck and back due to poor posture from sitting in baby chairs. This led to daily discomfort including frequent migraines and difficulty sleeping. I tried yoga, massages, and chiropractic adjustments–nothing worked. I was desperate to find relief. Having several holistic clinics at my doorstep, I decided to stop living in constant pain and try the alternative treatment all the celebrities had been raving about: cupping.
Cupping is a Traditional Chinese Medicine technique that requires heating a jar and placing the jar on the skin, causing the skin to be suctioned into the cup. For my treatment, I had a combined method of “wet” cupping, acupuncture, and electro-magnetic massage. Wet cupping involves puncturing the skin with a small needle before applying the cup. I had my cupping therapy done at a small generic Chinese Medicine clinic in South Korea. Going into the whole experience, I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially because there was a language barrier. I knew there would be needles and a cup. That’s it. This was one of the joys of living in a foreign country; it’s always an adventure.
After consultation with the doctor, I was ushered into another room where I changed into a robe and was asked to lie face down on a mini table. With feet hanging off the table, I waited patiently for my treatment to begin. The technician strategically applied the electromagnetic pulse points on my back, cranking up the frequency so high that my back muscles were convulsing at rapid speed. After about ten minutes of this weird and strange battering to my back, the doctor came back in to perform the cupping treatment. I’m not going to lie, I was extremely nervous. Typically when I try new things, I like at least a small pep talk about what is going to happen. The doctor proceeded to poke my upper back with tiny needles, releasing blood. He then covered the same area with three small jars. I was expecting pain but all I felt was an intense pressure. Not an unbearable pressure, but a light pull. I closed my eyes and relaxed under the heated blanket, letting my body fully surrender to the experience. Another five minutes passed when the doctor woke me up from my slumber, sliding the cups off my back. To conclude my treatment, the doctor gently inserted ten small acupuncture needles in my neck and upper back. Much like cupping, the needles were virtually painless and I was left to rest for another ten minutes. After some time, the nurse woke me up by swiftly removing the needles from my back. She patted me on the back and pointed to my clothes to confirm my treatment was over. Bruised and battered, yet feeling immensely relaxed, I left with my first cupping experience a true believer in the healing power of Chinese Medicine.
All in all, I was extremely pleased with the outcome of my cupping treatment. If you have chronic pain or even a little bit curious about the treatment, I urge you to try this alternative method of healing. Over a few treatments, not only did cupping help with my back pain but I began to notice numerous beneficial side effects on my overall heath. The only downside to cupping is that your back looks like it got attacked by an overzealous lover.
Here are 5 other positive benefits of cupping therapy:
Like many others, I tend to carry stress in my upper back. Cupping is a fantastic way to levitate stress from the body. After multiple treatments, my body felt more relaxed and balanced.
Following my first treatment, I felt dehydrated and nauseous. This was a clear sign that the bad toxins had been released from my body. Toxins can often build up in our systems from toxic environments and food. Think pollution, processed foods, alcohol, and exposure to chemicals. For optimal health, it’s crucial to rid our bodies of harmful toxins.
Cupping can release stubborn muscle knots better than Thai or deep tissue massages can. It reaches the deepest layer of the muscle, effectively breaking up lactic acid build up in the muscle tissue. My monthly massages never quite seemed to get rid of my back soreness. However, cupping was able to quickly relieve my muscle discomfort.
I was over the moon when I could finally sleep comfortably or get through one day of teaching without having to pop an Advil due to a debilitating migraine. Cupping and acupuncture combined was the first successful treatment to help manage my chronic back pain and headaches.
Depending on your ailments, I would discuss with your doctor if cupping is the right therapy for you.
Have you ever tried cupping? What were your thoughts?
Also by Jess: How a Balinese Spiritual Healer Brought Me Back to Life
More in health: Should You Try Energy Healing?
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Photo: Jess Davis