Cupping Equipment review

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Cupping Equipment review

Postby Breathe on Thu Sep 27, 2007 4:18 pm

I ordered the acucups, www.acucups.com and said I'd post a review since the quality was in dispute. I will do some pictures later also to illustrate what I will mention.

First, I'd like to say that this is a very cool concept. The cups are pliable rubber, and to use them you set them on the skin, push the top in to force air out, then release and they adhere. There are 4 cups in this set: The largest has a 2.5" diameter opening, the smallest has less than 1" diameter opening. They nest inside one another to take up less space. Mine arrived in a 9x11 shipping envelope.

They are very pliable, which is great. They feel a little sticky, well they are rubber, and for someone who is used to working with glass, will take some getting used to.

Light suction is very difficult with the two smaller cups. Even on a flat, fleshy area, they pop loose almost immediately. Due to the small size, heavy suction is difficult to manage, especially since there is no visual under the cup as there is with glass or even plastic. One of the reasons I was interested in this set is the possibility of being able to cup on the lateral neck, upper pecs and near elbows and knees- places where glass cups just don't work easily. It simply isn't possible. Either there is too much pressure or not enough. Plus the rough edge is really noticeable in these areas.

These cups require LOTS of oil in order to use sliding techniques. They are (as another poster indicated) quite scratchy when used on lightly lubricated skin, and have a tendency to either bind up, or come loose without adequate lubricant, unlike heavy glass cups which are quite versatile. Also, due to the design (a rather prominent inner "lip" with a somewhat sharp edge from the mold) they seem to pick up the oil inside the cup instead of gliding over it on the skin.

They smell like inside of Les Schwab. It is STRONG. At the moment they are sitting 10' away and the smell is still very distinct and noticeable. The smell seems to increase with use. I am assuming (hope) that it will dissipate somewhat with use and washing.

Moving stagnation: These cups do not move stagnation or blood stasis the way a good, tight, static glass cup will. I placed the 2nd largest, at the maximum suction, on an area that always turns up a lot of sha when cupping. I left it in place for 4 minutes, removed the cup and it was a little red. Not much. So for more TCM applications, these are not a good choice. This is the main way the documentation indicates these cups should be applied, there is little recommendation for moving cups. In this respect, they are completely inadequate.

In addition, the documentation gives suggested treatments and includes acupoints that would be impossible to apply the cups to, due to the presence of hair. Glass cups will stay on someone hairy, reasonably well if you use lots of oil and don't mess with them. These won't. You can't get the suction over the hair.

Cellulite: This is really what these things are designed for IMO. Testing them on my thighs, it was just the right amount of pressure for a cellulite treatment, the cups stayed on with ease, were easy to move (if using lots of oil and reapplying,) and felt reasonably comfortable. I could definitely see using rubber cups for this application. Again though, these cups felt scratchy, not smooth at all like cupping with glass. It may be the fault of this particular mold.

As mentioned, the mold has a very prominent lip or line inside the cup, just in the area where the skin would pull up into it. Static cupping leaves a very distinct impression on the skin. It is NOT sha. It is a mark from the edge of the cup. This does not happen with my glass cups.

I will post a picture later of both the mark and the inside of the cups. I need better photo equipment than I have here at work.

Verdict:

Would I order these particular cups again? No. The design, IMO, is still inferior. I don't know if the baguanfa rubber cups are the same manufacturer or not. There is no maker's mark on the inside or outside of the cups. Nor do I know if the ones Anita Shannon is planning to carry are the same. I will probably order one or the other set to find out.

Am I going to return them? Probably not. Though I'm not particularly impressed with them, I think I want to play with them, try and smooth the rough edge and see how they hold up to aggressive use.


(If any of the cup people want to send me a review set, I'll be happy to use them and post a review. I'll either send them back or if I like them I'll buy them after I review them. ;) )
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Postby wellnessgarden on Thu Sep 27, 2007 5:24 pm

Breathe...I saw several cupping demonstrations at the AMTA convention today...very cool. I didn't have enough time to get all the info, so I'll take more time tomorrow because there were so many people around the booths, but the glass ones look like they worked the best to me.

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Postby renauddv on Fri Sep 28, 2007 7:32 am

Thanks Breathe,

Nice review, with a lot of info to make a decision with.

I still like glass and plastic... I like to be able to see.

Darren
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Postby Breathe on Fri Sep 28, 2007 12:16 pm

Pictures:

All four cups nested together
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Four cups in set with ergo mouse for comparison:
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Create suction like this:
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Size of smallest cup (I have small hands)
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The next several will show clearly the "sharp" edge inside the various cups:


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The mark left by the "sharp" edge. The #2 cup (second to smallest) was attached for 45 seconds to my forearm. No sha is present due to short duration, but you can clearly see a "cut" mark in my skin. The skin is not broken, but the impression took about 5 minutes to disappear. :

Image
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Postby moogie on Fri Sep 28, 2007 4:26 pm

Breathe,

Thanks for posting your review and the pictures. I had been considering getting the acucups but I think I'll pass now. If you decide to try out the baguanfa rubber cups please post that info.

Perhaps you could become the official product tester of BWOL??

;)
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Postby Breathe on Fri Sep 28, 2007 5:23 pm

Ha! I'm happy to write reviews. I plan to try the baguanfa, or Anita Shannon's cups when she gets them. I'm waiting to hear from Ms. Shannon when she has the new equipment, since she has a reputation for quality.

"Official Product Tester?" LOL! If someone sends me their product, I'll test it. I might be a little too honest though. ;)
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Postby softhearted515 on Mon Oct 01, 2007 5:11 am

Good review. I wasn't going to buy them regardless but my instincts are proven by what you say. I will stick with glass.
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Postby cuppingisgreat on Thu Oct 04, 2007 10:55 am

Wow, I am taken by the explicite review!

Mine have the same edge on themnow that I looked really close, but even when I tried them on me, I didn't feel any disconfort - am I using too much oil? Or maybe too thick oil?

It's been two weeks now since we introduced them into our office and so far it's been good.

The smalles cups are to no use for me, so I have passed them onto a fellow acupunturist, who is using them in his office (I had a bag full after ordering a couple of these sets).

As far as the smell, I washed mine in soap before I started using them. :D

I also have a set of the bangfua rubber.
Please post your comment when you receive them! I am curious to see if you really feel a difference.

Thanks again! People like you are why we join these forums!
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Postby Breathe on Thu Oct 04, 2007 8:08 pm

I'm not sure if I will buy the baguanfa cups yet. I'm waiting to hear from Anita Shannon about new products, because I know she has very high standards. She said that there should be new products in a month or so, so I will order and post a new review probably around December 1st.

If you'd like to send your baguanfa cups to me for review, I'll pay for postage both ways. I would need to keep them for a few days, but could probably send them back within a week.
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Postby cuppingisgreat on Sat Oct 06, 2007 10:17 am

I will try to find the bangfua rubber cups for you and you can keep them once you get them, since we now have enough of the acucups and those are the ones we use right now.
I will email you once I have them.
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Postby relaxandheal on Sat Oct 06, 2007 11:33 am

Hi,
This is my first post here, since I guess I don't really "belong", practicing acupuncture and not massage.

I stumbled upon the post about acucups and it was to my great disappointment to see negative review about them.

I have been using these rubber cups in my practice for about six months now and I absolutely disagree about them not moving stagnation and not staying on the acupoints.
Not only do I apply these onto my patients, but also on myslef and I have never had any trouble with them falling off or not getting sha.

As you may have read the little booklet, which in my opinion is directed to non-professionals but regular consumers, the smallest sized cups are not for massage but for using on acupoints. I really cannot understand how they pop loose for you, when I usually leave them on for about 15 minutes (they are very strong and cannot be left on longer) and have never had a problem like the one you are describing (and I have applied them on sometimes slightly hairy backs).

I stick them on my neck, by myself, when I have to use them at home. Your statement about it "simply not being possible" is really hard for me to understand.

The two smaller sizes are what we use, the larger ones are used by our massage therapist.

I understand what you ment by them having a lip, but I think that because they are natural rubber, that's what you never really feel the edges, or at least we don't and I have never had a patient complain after having these cups on for a while.

As far as the documentation goes, every point described is hairless with a explanation that the cups won't stick onto hair ( I know that for a fact, since I ordered a set for one of our patients and went through the documentation with her before she started using them, otherwise I probably would have never read it).

Since I am not a massage therapist, I cannot exactly voice my opinion about the deep tissue massage, but as far as acupoints go, and that's where my expertise comes in, I would say that they are in no means "inadequate".

I think that the problemm is that they are being compared to the glass cups that are different, there's no doubt about that. But we decided to stop using glass cupping and these were a great substitute.


I will show pictures of sha in my next post. A few patients of mine had such deep markings from the cuppings that it took well over two weeks for them to disappear.

Thank you for your time,

Ming
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Postby Breathe on Sat Oct 06, 2007 7:31 pm

In all accuracy, this is what I said about sha:

These cups do not move stagnation or blood stasis the way a good, tight, static glass cup will. I placed the 2nd largest, at the maximum suction, on an area that always turns up a lot of sha when cupping. I left it in place for 4 minutes, removed the cup and it was a little red. Not much.


Anything that creates suction can technically result in sha coming to the surface. However, my experience with glass (which is considerable,) compared to the acucups, is that the acucups are comparatively ineffective.

If I were not allowed to do firecupping would I use the acucups? I suppose I would.

What I did say is not possible, is moving the smaller cups into areas that are more boney. I actually get better grip with the glass cups, since the flexibility of the cups, (rather than adhering better around boney areas as you might expect,) is a liability. They are much more likely to pop free. I'm referring to areas like around the knee, elbow, and the lower attachments of the scalenes. With a good set of plastic manual vacuum cups, you actually can get good adherence in these areas, which I haven't found possible with the acucups. It is too easy to dislodge them with a small touch or small movements by the client.

In using them this week, I've also noticed more of a tendency to lose suction as they are moving. They are sucking air under the rim more easily than a well-adhered glass cup.

They do not stink so much after repeated washings, so that is good.

Regarding the lip, it was VERY noticeable to me, and although I tend to be a bit sensitive, after just a few passes, my skin felt quite raw, although there was no visible abrading.

The other significant difference from your experience is that a massage therapist would not likely ever place the cups and leave them in place for 15 minutes. Massage cupping = moving cups. So you are correct, this review is geared towards massage. And in this respect (moving cups), my opinion is that this set is inadequate.



cupping, GREAT! I look forward to trying out the other set!
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Postby Breathe on Tue Oct 30, 2007 8:06 pm

Update: I received a set of the baguanfa rubber cups that you can find HERE.

This is a quick and incomplete review, since I am insanely busy this week and flying out Friday night to a funeral. Sometime in the next week, I will post a photo comparison.

In addition, the person who gave me the Baguanfa rubber cups, also left a set of the new German-made glass cups with suction bulbs. I'll post a review of those too.

The short and sweet version: These cups are indeed different than the acucups reviewed above. They are softer and thicker. It is much easier to compress the cups to get suction. Because they are so soft, they also adhere better even over boney areas, and do not lose suction when moving the cups. They work equally effectively even down to the smallest cup.

The inside lip, which was a problem on the previous set, is not an issue here. The edge is wide, soft and perfectly smooth. Even in tender areas, such as the neck or the inner arm, there is no scratchy feel. Again, I'll post a photo review when I have a chance.

These cups pull up sha as well, if not better (control-wise) than my traditional fire cups. I still like the fact that the air inside the glass fire cups is warm, and you can see what is happening under the cups. But the convenience of the rubber is a good trade-off.

This set is really, really good. Well worth the money, and I highly recommend that you get two sets, you won't be sorry. Whether you are experienced in fire cupping and want the convenience, new to cupping, or working somewhere that fire is not allowed, these are a worthy addition to your tool collection. It takes a lot to impress me, but I used these all day today and love them.

The other set I tried out is a small glass set with suction bulbs. These are also very good, and I'll be purchasing a second set. I won't go into detail on these right now, but they will also be reviewed.
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Postby Breathe on Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:53 pm

Image

Full set. They look very similar to the acucups, when viewed like this. They stack in the same way for easy travel. They're still blue. The similarities end there though.

These cups are softer and more pliable, the rubber seems to be very high grade and durable. The acucup set still smells like Les Schwab from 10' away, but not these. They have lost their odor after a few washings (although if you stick your nose in, they do still smell like what they are - rubber.)

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You can see that the edge is large and smooth. There is no appreciable abrading with these cups. They also do not squeegy the lubricant off the skin. Working feel is very similar to glass cups, except for two very important distinctions (other than ease of use): You can't see what is happening under the cup until it is moved, BUT you CAN work these cups carefully over bony areas like the spinous processes without discomfort. Obviously, anytime you work a tool over the top of bony prominences, extra care is needed. Use caution.
Image

This shows how pliable and soft these cups are. Moderate pressure brings the sides of the lip together on even the largest cup. They are very easy to use, I love them, and I'm using them every day. They clean easily with hot soapy water.

Trust me, you will want two sets of these.
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Postby Breathe on Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:55 pm

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These cups are absolutely fantastic. Trouble working scalenes and SCMs? No more. Is it uncomfortable to work the mastoid attachments? Forearms? Palmar triggerpoints? Not anymore. Do you want to do some lymph drainage on the face? Massage face-lift methods? The tender areas just below the clavicle? These are perfect for those techniques.

I can't stress enough how much I love these little babies. They are 100% controllable, the bulb is soft, the bell (cup) is perfectly smooth, with an ideally rounded edge. They are meant to be used continuously, so don't stick them on and walk away. They will eventually detach themselves. The on and off suction capabilities they provide allows you to do things with them that you would never dream of doing with traditional fire cupping.

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Yes, they are expensive, but worth the money. I think I would use these even if I weren't doing any other type of cupping. My favorite use is with tension in the SCMs and Pectoralis muscles. A few minutes with the cups first can mean a significant difference in level of discomfort when working spasm or injury in the area.

How they work:

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The cup has a barb joint that the rubber bulb slips over. It's easy to put them together, and it's an airtight fit. To keep the joint airtight, be sure to remove the bulbs when not in use so the rubber doesn't weaken.
The cups clean easily with hot soapy water.
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Postby Breathe on Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:59 pm

Both sets can be ordered from Earth Spa, which is the only place I've found so far carrying these exact cups. If/when Anita Shannon has the same/similar product available, I'll post a link in this thread.
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Postby Breathe on Fri Nov 30, 2007 9:11 pm

Side-by-side comparison of "Acucups" vs. "Baguanfa Rubber Cups:"

Acucups:
Image

Baguanfa Rubber Cups:
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You can clearly see that these are NOT the same cups.

Caveat Emptor
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Postby softhearted515 on Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:07 am

I can't say in the past I was interested in anything but fire cupping and the plastic cups I will use if I am just going to leave them on a point.

That said.....

last night I had a client become very uncomfortable about the fire. So I thought.... best look into a new cup set to use, minus fire BUT for gliding.

So that set above that you love, are they plastic or glass? About how long will they stay stuck, say working on the back, gliding up and down, ect.
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Postby Breathe on Sat Dec 01, 2007 8:42 am

The glass and bulb cups are small, for the size, note that the EO bottle in the picture is a standard .5oz bottle. I wouldn't use them for working on broader, tighter areas because they don't produce a very strong suction. You can definitely do gliding work with them, but I have never even tried gliding down the back. I don't think it would be very effective.

For the fire nervous, the rubber cups work really well. I love my traditional fire cups, and while very curious about the rubber ones, my idea was that they would be adequate for cases where fire wasn't possible, but that they would sit in the drawer the rest of the time. Not so. I use them every day. Sometimes I use the glass and rubber at the same time just for ease of placement.

If you like to do cupping and have people who are hesitant about the fire, the baguanfa rubber cups are an excellent compromise, and a relatively inexpensive option.
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Postby softhearted515 on Sun Dec 02, 2007 1:44 pm

I think I am going to try the baugaufa cups for now. The other ones are a bit expensive and don't seem to much different from using the plastic ones I already have.

Thanks for the great reviews.
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Postby softhearted515 on Wed Dec 05, 2007 3:46 pm

Breath, i ordered those little blue ones. I can't wait to get them. I thought of ordering 2 sets like you suggest but it wouldn't have saved me in shipping so I figure I best wait to see what I think.

So let the company see this, maybe you will get commission!
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Postby Blisss on Wed Dec 05, 2007 4:39 pm

Awesome review, Breathe! Thanks for taking the time to share your research with us.
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Postby shivashiva on Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:14 pm

I just ordered the baguanfa cups as a result of this post. Thanks Breathe! They do have a link to this thread up on their site. Very cool.

My friend who is in acupuncture school did some cupping on me yesterday and I instantly fell in love because I realized I could do them on myself for self care, and also the benefit for my clients and saving my hands. I remembered this thread, and these cups that could be used without fire and are a pretty inexpensive set to just try out.

I haven't gotten them yet, but after a week or so when I've had a chance to try them out, I'll post here with my experience as well.
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Postby softy515 on Thu Aug 14, 2008 5:41 am

I wanted to add about the baguanfa cups.

I have found I use these more and more! They are so easy to clean and to use and clients love them. My problem? Not enough of them! I work in two locations..... I would never have the size I needed at the place I was at. So... I just ordered 2 more sets.... I will have one set at one location, the 2 sets at my private office so that I can use 2 at the same time of the same size. (say working the back.... up and down the bladder channel. I will be able to do both sides)

however, I never use these cups stationary. I am not sure if that they are intended for use that way. I have clear cups for that purpose.
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Postby antidote on Fri Nov 28, 2008 11:38 am

Breathe, Thank you so much for these reviews. They are invaluable. I bought the blue baguanfa cups and absolutely love them! My clients have raved about them and they are so convenient for outcalls. Thanks again!
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