Her Cups Runneth Over

Jessica Simpson,
Singer, TV Host & Entrepreneur

Meat lovin' Texas chick Jessica Simpson is on an alternative health kick. She recently tweeted that with her vegan diet, Chinese tea drinking and cupping sessions, she doesn't even recognize herself.

"Wait, what the hell is cupping?," you might ask. Perhaps you recall those freaky 2004 photos of Gwyneth Paltrow with large circular bruises on her back. That was caused by cupping, a form of acupuncture considered one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine.

Acupuncture Today explains that during cupping, a cotton ball or other flammable substance is burned inside a glass cup, which removes oxygen from the cup and creates a vacuum. The cup is turned upside down onto the skin (usually on the back and stomach, but sometimes on arms and legs), and the vacuum creates a suction that pulls the skin upward into the cup. Multiple cups may be used at one time and each one usually remains in place for 5 to 10 minutes.

The procedure looks pretty freaky, but it's believed to open up pores to stimulate blood flow, balance the flow of qi (energy) and help remove toxins from the body. Stephen Cohen, MSOM, LAc, founder of NYC's AXIOM Acupuncture says that cupping works for two reasons. First, cupping "purges any stagnant blood, oxygen and waste products through the capillaries. Second, cupping helps to move blood, fluids, and nutrients through the interstitial spaces (the space between cells), the skin and muscles, etc.," which means "the body can work better to heal, relieve pain, rebalance and transform itself."

So if you buy into this and feel like going on an Eastern medicine bender like Jessica, know that cupping is believed to be relatively safe. Try to avoid the procedure before any hot dates, though, as it could cause swelling and bruising that last a few days. And of course, check with your doctor if you have any existing conditions (cupping is a no-no for those who bleed easily, have inflamed skin or some cases of high fever or convulsions).


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