Hickeys and Alcohol…

The Google queen is at it again.  The search for today? “Alternative Fibromyaliga treatments.”

I found a treatment that scares me and intrigues me at the same time. 

The treatment is called “Cupping Therapy.” 

Did anyone else automatically think alcohol when you heard cupping?


Just me?

Moving on…

I found the following information on Cupping therapy from http://www.fibromyalgia-symptoms.org

What is Cupping?  (Beer? Wine?  Rum?…)
Cupping therapy has been adapted for use from a form of traditional Chinese medicine. This type of therapy uses glass cups applied to the skin to help relieve pain, flush out toxins, and restore healthy blood flow to the body. Using heat or a suction pump, a vacuum is created inside of each glass cup. These cups are then placed on various acupuncture points throughout the body and left for about ten minutes.

(Remember when you were little and you would put a cup around your mouth and suck in really hard so it would stick?  You inevitably ended up with a big hickey around your mouth and chin.  This is what I’m picturing with this therapy.  I’m also a bit concerned that the first thought that popped into my head when I heard about this therapy was alcohol and the second thought I had was hickeys.)

Types of Cupping
There are two main types of cupping:

  • Stationary Cupping: During stationary cupping, each glass cup is left in one position on the skin. The glasses are not moved.
  • Massage Cupping: During massage cupping, the glass cups are moved around the skin in a massage-like technique. (This sounds a lot like ASTYM to me, only ASTYM tools are flat)

History of Cupping
Though cupping may sound scary at first (You’re not kidding!), it has actually been around for thousands of years. It was first used by various indigenous tribes in Africa, Asia, and South America. These tribesmen used hollowed-out horns to remove poisons passed through insect and snakebites (gross). It was also used in traditional Chinese medicine to help prepare people for surgery and to divert blood from wounds. (Yikes!)

Throughout the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, cupping was commonly used to help cure common colds and chest infections. Nowadays, cupping is making a big comeback. In the United States, it is offered by many massage therapists and acupuncturists, with various celebrities, including Gwyneth Paltrow, taking advantage of this ancient technique..(Well if Gwyneth does it, we just HAVE to do it, right?)

The Benefits of Cupping
Whether or not you are suffering from symptoms of pain or muscle stiffness, cupping is a great therapy. It provides numerous benefits including:

  • improved circulation and blood flow
  • toxin release
  • faster healing of muscles, ligaments, and tendons

(again, this sounds very similar to ASTYM)

It also works to reduce pain and soften stiff muscles and tissues.

Cupping Therapy for Fibromyalgia
Cupping therapy is especially beneficial for people suffering from fibromyalgia. If you have fibromyalgia, you know how tender your muscles and joints are (Um..duh). Even a vigorous massage can send your body into spasm. Cupping, however, is a non-irritating type of treatment. It will not exacerbate your muscle pain in anyway, or compound any of your fibromyalgia symptoms. It is especially good for:

  • reducing trigger points
  • increasing muscle flexibility and range of motion
  • decreasing anxiety and depression

What to Expect During A Session
At your first cupping session, you will probably notice quite a few different tools that will be used during your treatment. These include:

  • glass cups
  • alcohol (AH HA! I knew alcohol was involved!)
  • cotton balls
  • candles
  • matches (Do what now?  Those better be to light the candles!)

Though these implements may worry you (Yep!), rest assured, this is not a painful treatment. You will lie down on a massage table and your therapist will first locate areas that require treatment. Once these areas have been identified, the cupping procedure will begin.

  • A candle is lit and used to light on fire a cotton ball that has been soaked in alcohol.
  • This cotton ball is then held inside a glass cup, creating a vacuum.
  • The cotton ball is removed and the cup is placed immediately on your skin.

You will feel a slight suction where each cup has been applied (does anyone else have a loud “slurping” noise ringing in their ears?). Typically, between four and six cups are applied during one session. These are left on the skin for no more than 15 minutes. If you are receiving a massage cupping treatment, oil will first be rubbed over your skin. The glass cups will then be moved over your skin to help massage sore muscles and joints.

After the Cupping Treatment
After your cupping treatment you may notice some red marks in the form of circles on your skin (AH HA again! I knew there were hickeys were involved too!). Don’t worry – this is a sign that the cupping technique has worked to increase your circulation. You will also feel deeply relaxed and the areas that have been treated will feel flexible and light.


Google searching also has to come with looking at the images.  This is what I found when I looked at the cupping images…

























You know on diary farms when the hook the cows up to the milking machines?…



While I think this therapy is very interesting…

I think I’ll stick to ASTYM.



6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Martha
    Sep 26, 2011 @ 23:42:01

    OMG! That is all I can say!


  2. Stacy
    Sep 27, 2011 @ 04:31:00

    I had this done to me at the acupuncturist….FAIL! The cups don’t stay on and keep “popping” off. I didn’t notice any change or improvement whatsoever! Just another doctor out for a buck…cost me about $450 a time (and of course they say you need to have 5 or 6 sessions before you can feel the improvement of the treatment!).


    • jenfibrofighter
      Sep 27, 2011 @ 12:15:49

      I was SO hoping someone who had had this done would comment so i could get a personal experience. Epic fail indeed by the sound of it! I didn’t realize it was that expensive either! But I do have to ask, did you get hickeys? Did they last long?


  3. Ginger
    Oct 08, 2011 @ 12:16:32

    Yikes, I would be scared, I don’t know about you but I bruise if the wind blows too hard… If I had that done and anyone saw me they would lock me up in a scientific expierment facility or something!

    I’m sorry it didn’t work for you Stacy, what a shame it cost so much money. People are so wrong.


  4. Stacy
    Oct 10, 2011 @ 05:13:08

    It just pretty much left marks like the second picture…no big deal. (The first pic looks pretty scary! YIKES!!!)The marks are gone by morning. I was lucky my insurance covered it so I only had a co-pay but some insurances don’t cover it.


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