Sliding the smooth glass cup up and down the back muscles, I start the session with light suction. Lighting an alcohol saturated cotton ball, I quickly dip into a new glass cup removing the oxygen and place it on the skin of my patients back. This is called glass cupping theraphy, fire cupping, cupping massage, moving cups or stationary cupping therapy. I notice there is an offensive odor after I blow the flame out, it smokes for a minute before it dissipates. The Pesticide Action Network and The WHO give estimates of about 40,000 people dyeing each year from pesticide related poisoning. As I smell the chemicals in this cotton ball, it is my goal to bring awareness to this subject through my practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Cupping therapy goes back thousands of years, used in ancient traditional medicine in many cultures around the world. In Asia, they used bamboo cups prior to glass to create a good seal. Today, the most common are plastic cups with pumps or polished glass cups made in a variety of sizes for different areas of the body. Cupping massage or moving cups is done with smooth circular glass over oiled muscles pulling the skin and myofacial tissue away from the bone, like a reverse massage pulling up rather then pushing down. This in turn reduces stagnation, severe lower back pain,chronic lower back pain,neck shoulder pain, creates a myofacial release relaxing connective tissue. Cupping allows the body to move out stagnant blood, stimulates the lymphatic system to process toxins and remove lactic acid more quickly. Gently moving cups along the legs stimulates the lymphatic system treating sluggish muscles and cellulite. In addition, this benefits a healthy immune system, respiratory health, cardiovascular circulation and reduces muscular pain from chronic injuries. Many people choose to use the option of plastic cups due to different training, lacking confidence in the safety of fire cupping and/or do not like the smell of burning cotton. Between cupping therapy, facial rejuvenation and acupuncture, I use about 100-200 cotton balls a week. With this in mind, I started my research.
With 25% of the world’s insecticides and 10% pesticides going towards cotton crops, the amount of damage this does on the environment and human health is terrifying. With the large amount of chemicals going towards cotton production, only 2.4% of the world’s crop lands are planted with cotton. Research has shown after almost 40 years of using a chemical called aldicarb, it is finally being forced out of production after thousands of complaints of chemical poisoning causing numerous counts of sickness and deaths. Not only do these carcinogenic substances cause harm to humans and bugs but they kill a wide variety of animals including birds, fish, bees affecting the whole natural spectrum of life.
Aside from the health concerns from “dirty cotton” production, it is said to play a major role in wasted ground water. The WWF claims it takes more then 20,000 liters of water for 1 kg of cotton production. This equals the production of only one T-shirt and a pair of jeans. The “run off” or chemicals dumped from cotton production is just as bad as the agricultural process, where dangerous chemicals such as arsenic, mercury, formaldehyde, benzedine, aldicarb and parathion are leaching into the ground soil and which is absorbed into food crops in the US and worldwide.
After a little research, I understand the importance of organic cotton and the scale of how “dirty cotton” is impacting human health and the environment. Luckily glass cupping is especially good for detoxing the body and pulling out years of toxins stored in the muscles and fat. So to ease your mind, as you may not wear 100% organic cotton all the time, you can get a regular detox of the chemicals you are exposed to at least. After years of turning my head or opening a window to the smell of chemicals, I am purchasing and growing my own organic cotton. Here on our little family farm on the north shore of Kaua’i, we are making a stand showing how simple it is to do and that every bit counts. Be amazing, buy organic cotton and support an industry that gets ignored by the mainstream America. Today, I am buying and growing organic cotton balls, which are safer for myself and my patients to breathe. Even feeling softer to the touch, they have low impact on the environment and human health.
Flora Freeauf, L.Ac.
Dakine Hands Acupuncture
North Shore Kauai, Kilauea & Hanalei offices