Headaches are among the many ailments that have responded well to cupping therapy. Patients taking this form of treatment report a marked relief from the intensity and frequency of the headaches they’ve experienced for years. Cupping therapy is a form of non-invasive healing in which cups made of soft, pliable materials like silicone are used to create suction on specific sections of the patient’s head and neck. This suction results in an increase of blood flow to that specific area and promotes healing.
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Types of Headaches
Headaches can be of various kinds such as sinus headaches experienced behind the forehead and cheekbones or tension headaches that feel like as if a tight band is being squeezed around the head. Headaches can also be experienced in and around the eye called cluster headaches or those caused by stress in the neck and shoulders region. Many patients also have migraines. These headaches are characterized by pain, nausea and changes in vision.
Studies Supporting Cupping Therapy
Researchers have conducted experiments to ascertain the efficacy of cupping therapy for curing headaches. These studies have yielded positive outcomes.
- Results of studies conducted in 2008 published in The American Journal of Chinese Medicine report that 70 patients in a control group were treated with wet cupping therapy. This therapy is a variation of cupping therapy and is also called Al Hijama in Arabic. Of these patients, two-thirds expressed a decrease in the intensity of their headaches. They also noted that the frequency of the headache episodes went down.
- Another study was conducted in 2010 and its findings were reported by the World Family Medicine Journal. The patients treated for chronic headaches also reported that their headaches were much less severe than before.
Treating Headaches With Cupping Therapy
The different kinds of headaches can be treated by using cupping therapy on specific spots on the patient’s face and neck. However, before applying suction, essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus that are natural pain relievers are spread on the skin. These oils create the necessary lubrication, so that the cup moves easily. After the suction is created, the cup is moved using different strokes by way of yet another form of cupping called gliding cupping or massage cupping. Cups used on the face are typically small in size and can be made out of rubber or silicone (like these). These cups allow suction to be created simply by squeezing the cup, placing it on the skin and then releasing it.
Cupping Motions Used for the Various Types of Headaches
- Sinus Headaches: The forehead is targeted, and up and down movements are used. The cheekbones are also treated by using movements from the nose outwards in the direction of the ears.
- Cluster Headaches: After the appropriate suction is created, the cup is moved from the center of the forehead sideways to the outer edge of the eye. Next, the cup in moved over the cheekbone towards the nose. This action is then repeated in reverse. One or both the eyes can be treated.
- Tension Headaches: These headaches can be treated by moving the suction cup up and down on the forehead followed by circular movements.
- General stress: In each kind of headache, cupping is also performed on the neck and shoulders areas. The vacuumed cup is first placed behind the ear and then moved down over the neck and the shoulder outwards. This treatment helps to ease stress and improve circulation that works to ease any kind of headaches. The cups used for this treatment can be slightly bigger than those used on the face.
Why Cupping Therapy Works on Migraines
Migraines are caused when there is a reduction in the blood supply to the brain. This is why; they are also called vascular headaches. Whenever the patient experiences a specific trigger such as extreme stress, loud sounds, or even strong odors, the muscles at the base of the skull go into spasm and restrict the blood supply. To make up for this insufficiency and the resultant reduced oxygen, the blood vessels in the brain expand. Thus, they exert pressure on the nerves in the brain causing severe pulsating pain. This is also the reason why the patient sees visual auras that can last for 4 minutes to an hour. Nausea and vomiting can also occur. Some patients report that regular physical tasks, loud sounds, and bright lights seem to aggravate the pain.
When cupping is performed on the base of the neck, forehead, and cheekbones, the tensed muscles are relaxed because of an increased blood supply to the area. In this way, it can work to relieve the pain. The vacuumed cup is moved in an up and down movement over the forehead followed by sideways motions below the eyes. The cup is moved from the nose outwards, over the cheekbones. In addition, some other points are targeted such as the left and right carotid, the nodes behind the ear, on the chin, and the curve of the neck and shoulders. Cupping is also performed on the interscapular region, and both sides of the neck.
Thus, cupping therapy can be used to relieve headaches of different kinds including the most severe form, migraines. And, this fact has been substantiated by research and studies.
1. http://www.mira- dynamics.com/how-to-use-mira-massage-cups/cupping-therapy-for-headaches-and-migraines/
2. http://www.naturalne ws.com/032309_cupping_therapy_headaches.html
3. http://www. colonwhisperer.com/services/chinese-cupping/
4. http://www. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18306448