All you need to know about Ba Guan (Cupping)

If you followed Rio 2016, you may have noticed the cupping spots on Michael Phelps and some of the athletes. However, this ‘trending’ therapy is not new. Egyptians had been using it from as early as 1550 BC.

There are different types of cupping techniques such as the stationary cupping, massage cupping, flash cupping, wet cupping and acupuncture cupping. More than one technique may be used in combination for different medical conditions. It is commonly used to provide drug-free pain relief for muscle ache/strain, combat acne, obesity, shingles, upper respiratory syndrome, headache, menstrual cramp, gastrointestinal problems, as well as maintain general wellness.

How does cupping help?

Cupping is able to aid in such medical conditions due to its ability to:

  • Expel cold-dampness
  • Remove blood stasis
  • Clear heat-toxins
  • Improve ‘Qi’ and blood circulation
  • Reduce swelling and pain
  • Facilitate the energy flow in meridian channels
  • Restore Yin-Yang balance
  • Combat fatigue
  • Boost immune system to achieve positive recovery

Why do cupping spots come in different colour?

colour of spots after cupping - PULSE TCM CLINIC

Different colours reflect different diagnostic patterns. For example, for marks that are bright red in colour, it means there is yin or qi-yin deficiency or yin deficiency-heatiness. For a healthy individual, there may even be no marks left after cupping!

Is it painful?

No, it usually does not hurt. Some patients describe it as a suction force when the cup is placed on them, some says it has a massage-like effect, while others say they feel nothing at all during the therapy.

How long do the cupping marks stay?

The cupping marks usually last for a few days, up to 2 weeks, depending on individual’s condition. However, due to aesthetic reasons, patients may request to minimise marks.

Can I do cupping?

A TCM physician will access your condition to decide the most appropriate treatment for you. However, cupping is avoided on sensitive skin, skin with ulcers, swelling, infection, inflammation and wound, regions near the heart and large blood vessels, as well as patients with high fever and convulsions. It is also not recommended for pregnant woman.

Note: Information provided is not a substitute for a physician or any form of medical care. Individual symptoms differ due to different body constitutions and diagnosis. One should consult a licensed TCM practitioner for accurate diagnosis and treatment.


3 thoughts on “All you need to know about Ba Guan (Cupping)”

  1. This article is really informative for us. Right now cupping not only uses normal person but also uses celebrates like Mechel Phelps. Cupping therapy is a beneficial treatment for us. This article talks about wet and dry cupping therapy and also there are bad side effects of cupping. Wet and dry cupping is an ancient medical method. Which is usually used for back pain, migraine problems, stress, and anxiety. Thank you so much for such a crucial article.

  2. Did Ba Guan, but practitioner placed cup over a cyst/hardened pimple like thing at my lower back. At the end, it burst and broken, slight bleeding. Any chance I sustain infection, maybe like from previous customer using the same cups like HIV etc. Or other firms of infections as I readcan get blood poisoning. Thanks for advice.

    1. Hello Gerald,

      You may want to inquire with the TCM Clinic you visited? The usual procedure in TCM Clinics is to clean and sterilise the cups so as not to spread any infection!

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