All Things Chinese Medicine:

Cupping & Spooning

You may have come across the terms “cupping” or “spooning”. And you may have come across friends, people, or even pictures of celebrities flashing peculiar looking round marks on their bodies, especially their backs. And you may be wondering what it’s all about?

No, we’re not suffering from secret Masterchef dreams when we start using cups and spoons in our Chinese Medicine clinic. In fact we’re not talking about cooking in a traditional sense at all. What we’re referring to is simply us ‘cooking up’ traditional treatments for our clients.

The use of cups, also known as ‘cupping’, in medicine has been around for thousands of years and developed independently in various forms around the World from China, to ancient Greece, Northern Europe, Africa and the Americas. Through times ‘cups’ we’re made from different materials such as bamboo, buffalo horn, and in recent times more commonly plastic or glass.

‘Cupping’ is a technique that involves the application of cups to the surface of the skin by creating suction and negative pressure, usually with heat. This increases the blood flow to the muscles and skin, loosens the tissues, stimulates the circulatory and nervous systems, and can draw out toxins, excess fluids and pathogens.

Cupping is mostly done on the back or other large muscle areas and over acupuncture points. The cups are usually in place for about 15 minutes and can be moved from one spot to another or used sliding over a larger area.

‘Cupping’ can be remarkably beneficial in the treatment of a variety of complaints such as common colds, asthma, cough, digestive problems, and period pains, and it can have great detoxifying effects. It is most commonly used to relieve and treat joint and muscle pains, such as shoulder- and backaches.

‘Spooning’ also known as ‘Gua Sha’ refers to another traditional technique where a smooth porcelain spoon (such as a Chinese soup spoon) is used to rub or scrape the surface of the skin and thereby stimulate circulation and release tension and pathogens. Other smooth materials, such as jade or horn can also be used.

‘Cupping’ and ‘Spooning’ are often used in combination with acupuncture and/or remedial massage. The sensations of these techniques are often described as ‘weird but wonderful’, and the fast relief they can provide frequently surprise. Both techniques tend to leave temporary marks that may look like bruises, but don’t feel sore or painful to touch. These marks disappear within a few days to a week, and so does the pain and tension.

Christina Tolstrup

Christina Tolstrup
Gardenvale Traditional Chinese Medicine