Cupping for Congestion

We’re home from our holiday and it’s back to work, for me at least.  After our weekend in the mountains and a long drive through the desert, John found himself in bed with chest cold.  This afternoon he came to the office complaining of a dry cough and “super congestion” in his chest.  I decided that cupping would best in order to break up some of the mucus that was causing his congestion.  What is cupping you ask?  We all remember in 2004 when Gwyneth Paltrow showed up at that NY film premier with those alien-like markings on her back.  Well…that’s from cupping.  The papers described it then as “some kind of acupuncture.”  Talk about publicity for the art.

Cupping is just one of the modalities of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The cups are applied by reducing the inside pressure, through either suction or flame, which draws the skin up into the cup and creates a hold.  I used a plastic cupping set with a suction pump.  This is much easier and safer than the classic glass fish bowl looking ones.  Cupping is often used for such ailments as respiratory illness, gynecological issues and pain.  The intention is to break up underlying stagnation that is causing the condition.

Since John was presenting with congestion or stagnation of phlegm in his chest that he could not cough up, cups seemed to be the perfect choice for treatment.  I first treated him with needles and let him rest for a while. I used mostly tonifying points in order to boost his immune system and help him fight the illness.

cupping 2
John showing off his freshly cupped back

After John’s acupuncture treatment, I applied cups on either side of his thoracic spine and slid them up and down his back as if I was giving him a massage.  What began to appear were the dark colored marks that you can see in this picture. He felt some slight tenderness but no pain. After a few minutes, I removed the cups and let him sit up.  Immediately he explained that his chest felt looser and he looked a lot less dreary.

Now as I write this he’s starting to cough up the phlegm which had been lodged in his lungs for two days. The marks will last about a week or so. No backless Halloween costumes for him. He has been careful to keep the area covered as he is now more susceptible to the elements. Tomorrow he’ll be able to take a warm shower and should be feeling much better. Hooray to acupuncture and its mysterious modalities.  Hooray to John for forgoing over-the-counter decongestants and seeking out a healthier method of treatment.

One thought on “Cupping for Congestion

  1. Laura,
    This is the most interesting thing I have ever heard of. I’m going to speak to Rich’s accupuncturist (is that what he’s called?) about it as Rich always seems to get congested this time of year.
    I just love your blog! Thanks for all the information.
    ~Barb.

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