• Sarah Chute

Review of Traditional Chinese Medicine Cupping Therapy by Ilkay Zihni Chirali

If you're looking for a book on traditional cupping therapy, then look no further. This is

"THE" book to have when it comes to understanding all things cupping. The first edition was published in 1999. This review is on his third edition, which was published in 2014.

Ilkay Chirali is a private practitioner and runs an Acupuncture and Stress Therapy clinic in London. He is also a lecturer and an expert on Cupping and traditional Chinese medicine. This book also has several contributions including some from world renowned Cupping expert Bruce Bentley, whom I am quite fond of and have much respect for.

When busting into this book the first thing you will notice is a glossary of acupuncture/acupressure points,157 points, plus13 extra points. You will find detailed explanations on what the points mean, where to locate them and what each point is responsible for and when they are indicated. For someone who knows nothing about acupuncture, this is a great reference to have. Following that is a short history of cupping therapy including cupping in the western world, middle east and Muslim world and even Jewish tradition. He talks briefly about the various forms of cupping including magnetic cupping sets, pistol handle valve cups, portable cupping pumps, screw-top cups, cups with squeeze rubber tops, bamboo cups, glass cups, rubber cups, silicone cups, two in one cupping set with electrical stimulation and even disposable cups.

There is an interesting chapter on the impact of weather on health and most importantly addressing "wind". The classic "blanket cupping" technique can be found within this chapter. Diving further into the elements Chirali talks about Buddhist medicine and how cupping therapy is used with these cultures specifically Thailand and Tibet.

Next, you will find a chapter dedicated to the benefits of cupping therapy. This includes how it affects the skin by means of the 14 channels (with diagrams of each meridian) and the lymphatic system. He also briefly talks about blood stagnation/Stasis, Qi, Wei Qi, and other forms of Stagnation. Within this chapter you will learn about the effects of cupping therapy, which include blood purification, stimulation of the nervous system, relieving pain, improving metabolism, improving blood micro-circulation, activates the lymphatic system and toxin elimination process, tones the skin, and even removing pathogenic factors such as Wind,Heat and Cold.

When it comes to the hot topic of whether a cupping mark is considered a bruise or not its rather refreshing to know Chirali's take on it. I'm happy to say that he believes that they are not bruises but rather ecchymosis, a term referred to when local leakage of blood into the skin from the capillaries that occurs spontaneously and is flat.

I really enjoyed chapter 9, which talks about the 12 different methods of cupping therapy and when to use them to address specific conditions. This includes weak (light/tonifying) cupping, medium cupping (tonifying), strong cupping (draining), moving cupping (draining), light moving cupping, needle cupping (draining), hot needle and moxa cupping (tonifying), empty/flash cupping (tonifying), bleeding/wet/full cupping(draining), herbal cupping (tonifying), water cupping (even method) and ice cupping (cooling).

When it comes to facial cupping I like how real he is when it comes to what it can and can't do. Instead of claiming that facial cupping can be considered a facelift, instead he calls it "facial rejuvenation" or "facial energizing". During facial cupping oxygen rich blood is forced into the face, fluid circulation is encouraged, and the lymphatic system is activated which results in a healthier complexion. He also suggests but does not claim that during cupping the production of collagen and elastin "may" be stimulated, which results in a firmer facial texture, fine lines may be erased and deeper lines may be reduced.

There are many conditions treated with cupping therapy in this book. This is another great reference to have. Not only does he suggest treatment plans for each condition, but he also explains each condition in Chinese medicine terms which is cool for those of us who are interested in that but have little knowledge of it. Conditions treated include abdominal pain, anemia, asthma, atrophy syndrome, attention deficiency disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), back pain and sexual complaints, bed-wetting, boils and carbuncles, chest pain, common cold and influenza, constipation, cough, dysmenorrhoea, fevers, growing pains, hypertension, laryngitis, musculoskeletal pain (BI syndrome), skin complaints, stroke, bell's palsy, tiredness and even weak constitution. Other disorders treated in this book include allergic rhinitis (hay fever), ankylosis spondylitis, bronchitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, depression, diarrhea, eye conditions, epilepsy, female conditions, forgetfulness, hangover, headaches/migraines, hiccups, insomnia, male sexual complaints, mumps, night sweats, poor appetite, prolapse of the bladder and the uterus, psoriasis, restlessness and hyperactivity, trigeminal neuralgia, toothache and torticollis. Chirali also covers sports injuries which include ligament and tendon injuries, muscle injuries, bone injuries. He gives advise on how to treat lower limb injuries such as ankle injuries including sprains and Achilles tendon injuries. Calf muscle injuries,medial tibial stress syndrome, knee injuries, iliotibial band syndrome, hamstring injuries, quadriceps femoris injuries, hip and groin pain, glute pain, and lower back injuries. Upper limb injuries are also discussed and include shoulder injuries such as acromioclavicular joint arthosis (degeneration), adhesive capsulitis (frozen shoulder), dislocated shoulder, and rotator cuff injuries. Elbow and forearm injuries are also addressed.

One of my favourite chapters is on trigger points. As a massage therapist I am always dealing with trigger points and have yet to find a modality to address them effectively except for gua sha, so I was excited to play around with the recommendations in this book. Chirali recommends to use a strong suction in order to address trigger points with one cup on the trigger point and several additional cups along the boarders of the musculature or along the path of the pain. He also suggests using the pistol-handle cupping set to get rid of trigger points.

At the end of the book you will find a glossary of pictures for many of the conditions mentioned in the book. This is a great book to have. Its one of those books that you'll keep coming back to, both for reference and for inspiration.



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