In continuation of our pursuit to explain cupping’s utility, we’ll stay on the right side by examining another photo from the center here in Los Angeles.
Here we have a case of fairly severe stagnation. The causes of stagnation are numerous. This is why it is important to combine the findings of cupping with other valuable data. In this case, we have a middle-aged man who neither smokes nor drinks and is vegetarian. At first blush, he sounds like a paragon of good health, but he’s suffering from the early stages of arthritis at the extremities. Clearly, this should not be the case… or should it?
There is NO singular cause of stagnation. Obviously, heat can stagnate the blood by drying the fluids within blood. Dietary indiscretion can also stagnate the blood by introducing fluid metabolism problems that elicit release of inflammatory factors, i.e., cytokines, into the blood. We might look at sugar metabolism in such cases. Cold, an oft overlooked pathogen, congeals the blood leading to added stress on the body to pump the blood efficiently. The Classics actually place considerable emphasis on the emotions as a source for causing “qi” to stagnate. Since the qi guides the blood, prolonged qi stagnation will lead to blood stagnation.
Only through proper diagnosis, assessing pulse quality, heart rate, and general demeanor of the patient can an accurate assessment be made. This is what “a pointed approach to the whole person means.” It means understanding the individual circumstances and acting accordingly. The tongue will tell us if it is necessary to focus on the diet. The pulse and heart rate will tell use whether stress and hot or cold factor.
A six-week cycle of cupping is sufficient time for the patient to integrate the recommended changes while allowing for us to gauge the progress. While cupping is effective in treating the expression of blood stagnation, the other recommendations will get at its root.