31 August, 2016 Physician Joyce Chee

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.


Article by Physician Joyce Chee

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About the Author

Physician Joyce Chee Physician Joyce Chee is a registered TCM practitioner in PULSE. In 2014, she graduated with a First-Class Honours Bachelor’s Degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and Nanyang Technological University Singapore.

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