What I learned from my adventures with cupping

The year 2009 was not the best time of my life, to say the least. Common debilitating periods and pain were followed by my being diagnosed with endometriosis. Six months in and two surgeries later, it was revealed that I had an advanced case. Despite my being 26 years old, a hysterectomy seemed all but likely.

I did all that could be done, including having my hair fall out and daily spells of nausea all thanks to a medicine that I had been taking. This drug was supposed to induce menopause and buy me some time. In viro fertilization was considered after speaking with a fertility specialist and an acupuncture therapist was helping alleviate some other symptoms.

My acupuncturist made me feel in control, teaching me more about myself with each session. She soon commented wanting to try something new. She was speaking about cupping and let me tell you that Michael Phelps and Gwyneth Paltrow made it look better than it was.

Necessary treatment or unjustified pain?

Before, my acupuncturist would focus on my ears, much to my distress. Just so you know, you can feel pain right down your spine if your ear is targeted in the right way. I would take deep breaths to avoid howling in pain whenever my ears or toes were pricked. I trusted her and so one day after uncomfortable poking of my eyelids, she said we would try cupping.

My confidence grew as she spread massage oils throughout my back. "Finally.", I thought to myself, "I am going to be receiving treatment that anyone that is in pain would be dreaming of". This illusion came crashing down moments later after she stated, "This might hurt a bit so please try and relax.". Not long after, I was left breathless. Fighting through the pain, I asked her how she was able to apply them so tightly? "Fire", was her only response. This had gone from a dream scenario to an unforgettable experience. But would it all be worth it?

Farewell tension

To sum it up, not only was she applying cups onto my back but matches were also being lit above my back as well. The reason why? Because she would use the fire to eat up all the oxygen within the cup before quickly applying the scorching cup onto my back. All in the name of a tighter grasp. No oxygen equals a stronger grip, packed tight and freshly sealed.

To be honest, I am not so sure about it all. The pain prevented me from paying too much attention. You tend to lose focus when your soul is being sucked out by a hot fire. In total, only five minutes were spent with the cups and after some time, I quickly grew used to the feeling. It wasn't that painful, it was more of the shock and intensity that had caught me off guard.

Months of built-up tension had been erased from my back the second she pulled off her magical fire cups. Without a trace, no tension left to linger and I quickly remembered why I love my acupuncturist.

At the session's end, I was rubbed down with more massage oils and was then informed to not shower until the next morning. I was also warned to keep my back from being exposed, this was because my pores were all open. I didn't quite understand what I was being told but did as instructed nonetheless. My scent wasn't the most pleasant, resembling a eucalyptus factory. Everything that came into contact with me for the next 24 hours would need to be washed but that didn't matter to me.

I felt amazing! Although, one quick look in the mirror revealed two rows of red blotches adorning my back. This discarded the possibility of me wearing a backless dress. I simply wasn't as brave as Jennifer Aniston when she walked down the red carpet with similar decorations on her back.

How I became a devote cupping advocate

You know that intense but great feeling sore that you get for days after an intense round of exercising? That was what I had experienced and I loved it. With that, I was officially a believer in the wonders of cupping. In the years that followed, my acupuncturist would cup me several times as per my request.

I can not attest to any health benefits or detriments that resulted due to my cupping treatments. With IVF cycles failing, it wasn't until aggressive surgery with a top endometriosis specialist, that I found deliverance from my pain. What I can say is that both acupuncture and cupping played a big part in maintaining some kind of steady health and wellness routine. Especially after years of having battled with this disease.

No, acupuncture and cupping did not cure my illness but they did help stave off the symptoms that came with my terrible illness. I was able to regain some sense of control in my treatment.

The marks brought me a sense of pride, I was doing my part to fight back against my endometriosis. Strength could be found within this feeling of accomplishment. Your mental health can be just as important as your physical health.

Question: Can cupping be used to treat other conditions and who should engage in the practice? Who should abstain from it?- Anonymous Patient

Answer: If you are experiencing any kind of pain, whether acute or otherwise, headaches, common cold or cough, pain when menstruating, stress, and anxiety, then you should be considering this kind of treatment. Do keep in mind, that if you have a high fever or any kind of skin irritation or skin abnormality, then stay away from this treatment. It will only worsen your condition and you won't feel any of the benefits as a result.

- Raleigh Harrell, LAc

All answers provided represent only the opinions of our medical experts on site. All content above is strictly for informational purposes. Do not consider it medical advice of any kind.

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