“Look, look at the muffins on your back!” exclaimed Dr. Zhu, my acupuncturist and master healing guru, as the suctioned cups on my body swelled up and turned my back into a collection of red, circular, muffin-sized lumps. Ok, I know to a lot of people it may seem kinda gross to refer to collections of blood flowing to my skin as muffins, but hey, that’s his type of humor and it doesn’t bother me one bit. In fact I snickered as Dr. Zhu said that he wouldn’t need breakfast the next day since I had provided so many muffins.
Cupping can mean a few things (get your heads out of the gutter you dirty-minded people…) but in this context, it refers to an ancient form of treatment that has been used for thousands of years in Egypt, China and the Middle East. Western/conventional medicine doesn’t officially recognize the benefits of cupping (this is a theme I’ll be coming back to frequently) but many people have enjoyed the relaxation and healing that comes with it. I was lucky enough to meet one of China’s foremost cupping experts last week as she was visiting Dr. Zhu’s office and she decided to give me a substantial treatment that she said would improve my blood circulation and relax my overused and constantly tired shoulder and back muscles. After identifying which areas had poor or obstructed bloodflow (the redder and darker, the more stagnant the blood), Dr. Wong pricked those areas with a needle, squeezed out the black, clotted blood, then put on new cups to suction and suck out more of the unhealthy blood.
Much like the acupuncture treatment I receive at Dr. Zhu, cupping is meant to work with the meridians and flow of chi in the same way as the needles used in acupuncture. The result is a painless, deeply relaxing experience that comes with red circles on your back for a few days. All hail the muffins!!