“Solid Bloat” – What If We’re Not Fat?

An unrecognized pathological condition is affecting a large segment of the population and could be a key component of disease and degeneration, allergies and addictions, as well as obesity and toxicity. The condition is “Solid Bloat” and often manifests as weight gain or cellulite, and can eventually lead to serious health issues. Working with vacuum therapies not only effectively assists in eliminating years of Solid Bloat accumulation, it also provides information about the cause and nature of the condition.

How many times have we looked in the mirror over the years, only to see one of our parents appearing right before our eyes? What is this gradual weight gain that we casually identify as a sign of aging? One answer is the “walking history” that our body has become … layers of chemical and physical impacts that the body has processed and often stored due to an overload of the systems. The body tissues and structures of the body become congested and further compromised, and an unhealthy environment is created.

Let’s take a look at the formation of Solid Bloat in the body and some of its causes. The physical formation of the deposits is simple; heat from inflamed tissue slowly dehydrates the surrounding lymph, which inhibits any further drainage. Fascia fuses together from the heat and the congestion spreads through the upper tissues and skin surface. This inflammation can come from a myriad of sources such as surgeries, injuries, chronic movement patterns, and even childhood diseases and exposure to toxicities … resulting in unidentified allergies.

The surprise for so many people is that they have chronic conditions that may have been caused by something so long ago in their life, such as being exposed to excessive cigarette smoke as a child. There is a whole group of us that grew up in the 40’s through the 70’s and had to endure our parents smoking in the house and car. As the cups move over the back, a grey color can be seen under the skin, and if a cup is parked for even a short time, the discoloration may stay visible after the treatment. The chronic heat in the lungs … from childhood … inflames and dehydrates the surrounding tissue and body fluids.

It is imperative to use clear cups for treatments so that the cup can become a magnifying glass into the body. Large white deposits against pink skin indicate congestion and “divots” will quickly show adhesions, restrictions and the true nature of scars. The epidural insertion point can often still be seen on women who gave birth over 25 years ago and can frequently be a source of restriction that has spread throughout the back. It is important to observe the colors of the tissue in the cup, and test the skin for heat levels after the cup is removed to assess inflammation levels underneath.

Palpating Solid Bloat can be done with the hands and through the cups. Discern the texture of the tissue both with tactile and visual insight.  Is the tissue hot or cold, pink or white … or mottled, is it hard and bumpy, soft and spongy, discolored?

One student, 29, experienced her skin turning very yellow after the first day of class. There seemed to be no reasonable explanation until she called her mother and found that she had been severely jaundiced as a baby. She then shared with the class that she had always had problems bending forward because of a “catch” in the lower right ribs. Her class partner worked that day over her liver and the student finally discovered the freedom of movement that most of us normally enjoy.

Some clients can experience a light “burning” sensation or itching as old toxins in the tissues are stimulated, and heavy discolorations can appear on the skin from old surgeries and injuries. Any old residue in the congested lymph can trigger the immune system and it is important to dredge and drain the tissues slowly in those who already live with auto-immune disorders and degenerative diseases. But what an amazing benefit for those conditions … to drain out the thick congestion that can be filled with a large volume of immune system irritants!

What impact could we have on those who are recovering from addictions such as tobacco and other drugs? If the Solid Bloat on these people contains a large residue of their addictive substance, it would be extremely beneficial to drain out the congestion and remove the triggers for cell receptors. This could also be effective for those who are losing a large quantity of weight, much of which is actually Solid Bloat.

Have you ever massaged a client’s head and found deposits of a gel-like substance? What if this is the same Solid Bloat, and has been created by acute or chronic inflammation of the brain tissue? Theories abound that chronic inflammation of the body tissues from allergies and toxicities can also inflame the brain, severely clouding short term memory and even lead to mental pathologies. What if this inflamed condition is part of the diseases that we call dementia and Alzheimer’s?

Examining the natural body reaction to injury or illness, we find that the cycle is consistent. Injury or illness occurs and the body creates inflammation, which brings increased blood flow to the area. This also draws fluids and immune system elements into the region to deal with the condition. The PH shifts to acid and the tissue takes on a positive charge polarity. Adequate recovery will allow the body to shift back to a negative charge in the tissue and an alkaline PH when healing is complete. This action is similar and linked to the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous sub-systems of the autonomic nervous system.

The problem is that very few people actually give the body any recovery time. Therefore, the affected area or system stays in the acid PH with a positive charge and never shifts back to healthy tissue. This can continue for life in the body! Inflammation continues and dehydrates the tissue and lymph. The toxins and debris from the immune system response become trapped in the congestion and the issue becomes chronic. The acid PH of the tissue blocks oxygenation and nutrients, and dehydrated tissue cannot even absorb hydration that is available. The tissue or system now becomes vulnerable to all kinds of new pathologies and the entire immune system is overly stimulated and strained.

So how does vacuum therapy work to eliminate Solid Bloat and open drainage in the body? The biggest impact is on the lymphatic system; the vacuum will open and create space, release old scars and fascial adhesions to create unimpeded drainage, and aid in decongestion of the lymph terminations in tissues.  As the cup glides over the skin and underlying tissue, the vacuum should open the flaps of the lymph micro-vessel in a wave-like motion. This can help to dislodge trapped protein molecules that may have been blocking an open flap and gently triggers the entire lymphatic system. Static placement of cups is not as beneficial in this type of bodywork, since leaving constant suction on one spot will draw congestion into an area. A great example of this is how effective static placement of a cup is for pulling a cyst into an easily removable form for surgical procedures.  

Vacuum therapies use vascular dilation to bring heat to the area and liquefy the old lymph for easy movement, and use the same vascular dilation to eliminate the latent inflammation from the tissue and stop the cycle.  These techniques also assist by changing the PH and polarity of the tissue to create a healthy environment and allow healing. This can affect even very old injuries and finally free the tissue or joint to function at optimal levels. 

Let’s now take into consideration the emotional-somatic components of Solid Bloat and its importance in working with vacuum therapies.  A pattern has been found that many auto-immune disorders might be linked to a post-traumatic stress syndrome combined with exposure to a toxic element. As the other elements of medications, immune system debris, and tissue wastes are dredged and drained, there may also be the presence of neurochemicals in the congestion. This can trigger intense dreams or an emotional response to treatment, yet can be a wonderful elimination of a nervous system trigger and may truly help the client to recognize a deep part of their condition.

One important piece of information that working with the cups has shown us is the presence of “phantom breast syndrome”. Imagine the emotional debris that is left in the tissue along with the injury from a mastectomy, especially a radical procedure. When a large breast cup is placed over the area and the tissue is gently pumped to facilitate release of restrictive scar tissues and drainage of the congested lymph, the reaction has been nothing short of spectacular. Reactions have ranged from tears to a radiant smile as the “phantom breast” … the energy field of the breast … feels again. Creating space in the existing tissue and surgical scarring for the remaining lymphatic system to re-establish itself, releasing old inflammation from the medical procedure, and changing the PH and polarity of the tissue so that it can heal is of crucial value in these cases, yet the emotional  and energetic healing is also of utmost importance.

Consider the person who cannot lose weight, whether slightly overweight to clinically obese and undergoing surgical procedures. What a gift to their self esteem to finally find out that some of the problem has been Solid Bloat. What a great treatment for a client to have old C-section scars comfortably released, and the restored lymph flow to the upper inguinal nodes significantly diminishing the large belly that she had carried around for years.

The best possible adjunct therapy for bariatric surgeries is a series of MediCupping sessions to open the lymphatic system, dredge and drain old congestion and move it out to be eliminated. When working on a client who has lost a large amount of weight, it is so rewarding to move a large “saddlebag” from one leg and have them stand up to compare the difference!

These kinds of results, and educating the client on how they may have come to be in the shape they are in, seem to offer a sense of relief to many. It appears to lift some blame that they have placed on themselves as to why they have cellulite when they have a healthy lifestyle … or why they have gained more and more weight over the years. Viewing their body and tissues through the cup offers insight into the history of their body experiences and how these have affected their current health.

Having a tool that assists in evaluation and also provides the most comfortable and effective methods of affecting client health at such a profound level is of major benefit to today’s therapists. The results are often dramatic and visible, since vacuum therapies work nicely with the homeostatic mechanisms of the body. The addition of such adjunct therapies as aromatherapy, taping and magnetic micro-cups can become a complete tool box for working with an extremely wide variety of client conditions.

While the manual cupping equipment is tried and true, the new machines now offer an even wider range of techniques and a professional appearance when working with the medical community. Equipment is important, yet thorough training is the most vital of all. Try starting with a DVD and practice before attending a workshop, or attend the workshop and practice before working on clients.

 A great practice body is your own! Work just on your face and/or body twice each week for one month and take pictures of what happens. Not only will your sinuses feel clearer, and even your eyesight and digestive function might benefit, but your true face and body can come back out from under any Solid Bloat. Now, take a look in the mirror to see who is there …

Anita J. Shannon
Anita J. Shannon

Educator Info

  • ACE Founder
  • Director of ACE
  • Massage Therapy Hall of Fame Inductee – 2011


Anita J. Shannon has been a licensed massage therapist and licensed cosmetologist since 1983. She specializes in skin care, body treatments, clinical aromatherapy, and various modalities of massage therapy. She has been a national educator since 1990, appearing at numerous national spa and massage conventions each year. For four years, Anita appeared as a co-host on the television program “Health Options Today” with Dr. Mitchell Ghen.

Anita is the founder and director of Advanced Continuing Education (ACE), an NCBTMB CE provider established in 2001. Anita has presented hundreds of workshops on ACE Massage Cupping and MediCupping therapy throughout the US and internationally since 2002. Anita has been published on the subject of cupping therapy in industry publications such as Massage Today, Massage Magazine, and Les Nouvelles Esthetiques. She has published two educational videos on ACE Massage Cupping bodywork, two on MediCupping therapy and one on TheraCupping home care, and is currently writing a book on VacuTherapies. In 2011, Anita was inducted into the Massage Therapy Hall of Fame.

In 2016, Anita opened ACE Institute Online, an online education portal designed to bring cupping therapy training into the digital age. Since its debut in 2016, ACE Institute Online has introduced the revolutionary techniques found in ACE Massage Cupping and MediCupping to over ten thousand students worldwide.

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