Tuesday 21 May 2019

Extreme Beauty: Cupping

Gwyneth Paltrow's back had cupping marks when she attended a film premiere in New York a few years ago. Photo: Getty Images
Gwyneth Paltrow's back had cupping marks when she attended a film premiere in New York a few years ago. Photo: Getty Images

Sinead Van Kampen

Each fortnight Extreme Beauty investigates what's new and cutting edge in the battle to remain young and beautiful. This week we try the Chinese medicinal practice of cupping.

What is it?

Heated cups are placed on strategic points around the body and use massage and lymph drainage to treat a range of ailments. Similar in principle to acupuncture but, instead of needles, cupping uses suction to release area-specific toxins, increase blood and fluid circulation and restore to our bodies a sense of Qi.

Sorry ... that last bit ... Qi?

In Chinese medicine Qi equates roughly to 'life force'. Taking the holistic approach, cupping aims to get our functions working properly by realigning the bodies energies.

What does that have to do with beauty?

Well, releasing toxins is great for skin and as well as relieving stress the treatment is said to improve circulation and liver function which in turn promotes healthy skin and improves the complexion.

Oh ... so what's the procedure?

After a short tour I was led to a treatment room and began my consultation. After having my pulse taken and my tongue inspected, it was decided that a five-minute course using seven cups would be the best course of action. Cotton wool was lit and placed into bamboo cups, with the heat creating a vacuum against the skin. The cups were then placed onto my back and left to work their magic.

How does it feel?

Oddly enough, quite painless. The treatment massages tissue and gets rid of tense, painful knots. Despite the fire aspect, the cups don't really burn the skin although having my tongue inspected was a different matter entirely. Discovering that my tongue gave away a multitude of lifestyle sins was really quite unnerving.

Who loves it?

The Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese have all used the technique and the oldest medical textbook, the Ebers Papyrus, gives cupping a mention to treat a range of ailments. More recently Gwyneth Paltrow is said to love cupping and where Gwyneth goes, Victoria is sure to follow. At a recent red carpet event the female half of brand Beckham showed off her cupping bruises whilst sporting a backless gown.

The benefits ... real or imagined?

Not sure. Despite the untold numbers who have tried cupping since the A-list made it their treatment of choice, medical professionals are divided on its benefits. Some say the treatment has no discernible benefits whilst others believe that we just haven't learnt how to measure the effects.

The downside?

Bruising. The cups are removed from the back with a loud pop and in a very short period of time red marks appear where the cups have been.

If you like your treatments discreet, this probably isn't the one for you.

Extreme rating?

Much more relaxing than extreme. Cupping is more of a holistic therapy than a straight-out beauty treatment. The real sadists amongst you may take note that the treatment is normally used in conjunction with acupuncture.

Where do I go?

The treatment is priced at €55 per hour and is available from Bairbre Crowley at True Qi in The Dublin Holistic Centre. Call 087 6410414 or visit www.trueqi.ie to book

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