Cupping: Abdominal Issues

An abdomen ready for cupping.Constipation. It’s something people don’t really like to talk about, and like to have even less. It’s also just the tip of the iceberg for abdominal issues. IBS, distension and diarrhea are other common issues all of which can be helped with abdominal cupping. People do all kinds of things to avoid these issues with varying levels of success. Lots of these things include modifying your diet, cutting out certain foods and adding others.  These are good things but if you still eat processed food, meat, sugar, chocolate or caffeine (and let’s be fair that includes most of us) you may want to consider a manual therapy like cupping that can significantly improve your digestion.

All cupping has a few things in common. It is negative pressure/suction – pulling tissue up and away from the body. It breaks up fascial adhesions, draws out toxins, brings blood to the treated areas, and in the case of abdominal cupping, improves digestion. During an abdominal cupping session oil is applied to the abdomen, and then cups are placed and slid over the abdomen along the intestine in a clockwise motion. This stretches the abdominal organs and may feel funny and uncomfortable but pain is uncommon. Along with moving waste this will also improve bile flow and promote regular bowel movements.

So how does that work?

As we digest food it goes through the intestines by a process called peristalsis. This is a wave-like muscle contraction that moves waste. Massage can mimic this process by massaging in a wave-like motion over the large intestine, but involves compression, which isn’t always what you want. So while massage can be very helpful imagine how much more you could improve that movement by opening up the intestine and creating space. This is what abdominal cupping does.

No matter where you are in your health, if constipation or IBS are regular struggles for you or if you are looking to maintain good abdominal health, talk to your acupuncturist or massage therapist to see if abdominal cupping can help you.