Cupping therapy also known as ventosa to some is a form of alternative medicine in which cups are placed on the skin to create suction. Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps).
I used to see my grandmother do this to my mom but never had the guts to try it myself. Since I have been complaining of terrible body ache, my mom said that it could be “lamig” all over my back that makes it achy. Luckily, my househelp, Ate Rose, knows how to do it. So we tried it the other night. My kids were screaming as they see my skin bulges inside. It is believed that the more it bulges, “mas madami daw lamig sa katawan”.
There I was receiving a fire cupping therapy. See the difference from the first photo? The second photo looks like I had a quarter pounder burger on my back teehe! That only gives justice to complaints. I always felt heavier on my left shoulders. That’s why. Puro lamig pala.
Fire cupping involves soaking a cotton ball in 70% alcohol. The cotton is then clamped by a pair of forceps and lit via match or lighter. The flaming cotton ball is then, in one fluid motion, placed into the cup, quickly removed, and the cup is placed on the skin. By adding fire to the inside of the cup, oxygen is removed (which is replaced with an equal volume of carbon dioxide) and a small amount of suction is created by the air cooling down again and contracting.
Instead of cotton, Ate Rose used a normal paper. I didn’t feel anything while the paper was literally on fire, except from the suction of my skin inwards, to the glass. I really felt it!
Massage oil may be applied to create a better seal as well as allow the cups to glide over muscle groups (e.g. trapezius, erectors, latisimus dorsi, etc.) in an act called “moving cupping”. Dark circles may appear where the cups were placed due to rupture of the capillaries just under the skin, but are not the same as a bruise caused by blunt-force trauma.
Ate Rose applied medicated oil afterwards. The only marks I had were red rings which quickly disappeared after few minutes.
I felt a little better after that session but I guess I need to do it on a regular basis, at least twice a month.