Cupping Therapy is an ancient alternative treatment that can be dated back to 300 BC. It was used as a treatment for external injuries and pus extraction initially. As time went by, the technique integrated with Chinese medicine (TCM) theory and became one of the most popular TCM treatment procedures these days — cupping therapy. In this article, we are going to unveil the mystery of cupping for you.
Cupping is a kind of alternative therapy often performed by Chinese medicine practitioners. During cupping therapy, glass cups are placed on the skin to create suction. Such topical suction can facilitate local blood flow, speed up blood and lymphatic circulation, promote sweating, relieve muscle tension and so on. Chinese medicine believes that cupping’s suction also facilitates Qi and blood circulation, and dredges the meridian-collateral system (a pathway system that Qi flows through). By improving local blood, oxygen, nutrients and Qi supply, cupping relieves muscle tenderness, treats chronic pain, repairs cells and tissues.
During the therapy, glass cups are placed on the patient's skin to create topical suctions by either air pump or the heat of a fire. By vacuuming the cup, local skin and muscle would be drawn upward and outward. The cup will then be left in place for a few minutes (at most 15 minutes), during which there would be a sensation of heat and tension as well as facial redness due to vasodilation. Towards the end of the treatment, the cups will be removed, leaving minor bruises and red marks on the applied area. Bruises and red marks will normally fade in a few days. Depending on the specific treatment objectives, practitioners may suggest different cupping approaches. There are 5 slightly different types of cupping therapy, namely:
In Chinese medicine, cupping is often applied to promote Qi and blood circulation, warm up and dispel “wind” (a pathogenic factor in TCM views), dehumidify the body, dredge the meridian system, stimulate acupressure points, detumesce and relieve pain. Since tropical suction of cupping usually covers acupressure points, cupping therapy can be carried out separately or in conjunction with Acupuncture. Cupping can treat a number of diseases and physical conditions, such as:
While local red marks are typically left as traces after cupping, they normally go away in a few days. Side effects are not common for cupping therapy, but some individuals may experience rare side effects like:
Cupping therapy is a treatment method that should only be conducted by registered Chinese medicine practitioners or qualified health professionals. Here are some reminders for people who are taking cupping therapy:
Groups that must not receive cupping therapy
Here are some conditions to be assessed before cupping
Some body parts should be kept away from cupping
Precautions after cupping therapy
In Hong Kong, cupping therapy is often offered by registered Chinese medicine practitioners. Cupping treatments are available at the following local Chinese medicine clinics:
Cupping therapy in the public sector
In Hong Kong, there are 18 Public Chinese Medicine Clinics for Training and Research operated jointly by Hospital Authority, non-governmental organizations and local universities. They all provide the public with Chinese medicine, acupuncture and cupping therapy services.
Cupping therapy in the private sector
Here is a list of some private TCM clinics offering cupping therapy:
Address: 10 Sassoon Road, Pokfulam, Hong Kong
Address: Room 703, The Galleria, 9 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong
Address: 1/F, Sino Building, Chung Chi College, CUHK, NT, Hong Kong
Address: Suite 602-3, Prosperous Building, 48-52 Des Voeux Road Central, Central
Phone: 2526 7908
Address: 1103 Luk Yu Building, 24-26 Stanley Street, Central
Phone: 2234 9932
Address: 2705, 27/F, Universal Trade Centre, 3-5 Arbuthnot Road, Central
Phone: 2530 3315
Address: 9th Floor, 1 Duddell Street, Central
Phone: 2537 6898
Address: Unit 1300, Asia Standard Tower, 59-65 Queen’s Road, Central
Phone: 2523 8044
Address: 7/F, Golden House, 28 Pottinger Street, Central
Phone: 2881 8267
Address: 9/F Li Dong Building, 9 Li Yuen Street East, Central
Phone: 2537 1118
Address: G/F, Main Block, 327 Prince Edward Road, Kowloon
Phone: 2200 3109
Address: Flat 01, 22/F, The Righteous Centre, 585 Nathan Road, Mong Kok, Kowloon
Phone: 2386 6388
Address: 6/F, United Bank Building, 18 Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po
Phone: 2616 9885
Address: 6/F, The Sharp, No.11 Sharp Street East, Causeway Bay
Phone: 2574 9133
Address: 11 locations around Hong Kong, see address here
Phone: 2503 3699
Address: 4-6/F, Hawkins Wing Tung Wah Hospital, 12 Po Yan Street, Sheung Wan
Phone: 3742 0333
At the public TCM clinics, there is a consultation fee of $120 for each visit under government subsidized service, while that of non-subsidized services ranges from $130-180. Cupping therapy is usually performed along with acupuncture treatment and diagnosis at a range of $210-430 per course. On the other hand, the cost of cupping therapy at private TCM clinics can be widely variable, with most of them ranging from $200-1500 per session including consultation fee and cupping treatment. Please contact corresponding clinics before your visit for the latest information.
*All amounts are in HKD. No responsibility is accepted for any inaccuracies, errors, or omissions. It is always best to call ahead to make sure the information is accurate.
In Hong Kong, cupping therapy is mostly provided by registered Chinese medicine practitioners. According to Alea, most local medical insurance plans cover Chinese medicine under outpatient benefits. Beware that such coverage is generally subject to a reimbursement limit per visit and limited to a fixed number of visits per year. As for international health insurance policies, Chinese medicine is also reimbursed under outpatient benefits and most often subject to a sub-limit under Complementary medicines. Beware of sub-limits and whether your plan requires the practitioner to be registered with the Chinese Medicine Council of Hong Kong. Depending on the plan and insurer, a GP referral letter may be required to receive reimbursement. If you have health insurance questions, contact AD MediLink’s experts at [email protected] or 2606 2668.
This article was independently written by Healthy Matters. It is informative only and not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be relied upon for specific medical advice.
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