What is cupping?

Cupping is used in Chinese medicine alongside acupuncture and moxa as an effective therapeutic technique for many health conditions. A cupping treatment can be completed in as little as 5-7 minutes during a single treatment, or up to 20 minutes in some cases.

When combined with acupuncture and moxa, the use of cupping can often reduce the number of treatments required for alleviation of pain or other underlying conditions.

The circulation of qi and blood in the meridian, muscles, and body tissues can often stagnate due to an injury, illness, or sedentary lifestyle. Stagnation of qi and blood will lead to pain and other imbalances.  Pain is alleviated because cupping improves the circulation in these areas helping to bring the body back into balance.

Cupping helps such issues as generalized pain, injuries of the back, shoulders, neck, etc., herniated discs, disc degeneration, arthritis, and bronchial conditions such as asthma, colds and flus.

The cups may be made of:

  • Glass
  • Bamboo
  • Earthenware
  • Silicone

What does it involve?

Cupping is mostly applied to the upper back and neck region, but can also be applied to other areas of the body, and involves the application of cups, which adhere to the body through the use of a pump or by heat.

The most common method is by heat, which is done by placing an ignited cotton ball inside the jar. This cotton ball is quickly removed to create a vacuum before placing the jar on the skin.  You do not feel the heat, but you will feel the cup pull up on the skin, like suction.  The cups are used over certain acupuncture points and/or over areas of the body that are tight or painful.

Once the cups are attached, they are generally left on the body for 5-20 minutes and are removed by simply pressing down on the skin and letting the air out.

What can I expect from a cupping treatment?

Relief from pain is often immediate but can take up to a few days to feel the full benefit from the treatment. Cups do leave a mark on the body, which can last about 4-10 days depending on the condition being treated.  The marks are anything from dark pink-red rings to deep dark red circles, and are very useful as a diagnostic tool – the darker the mark, the more stagnation there is in the muscles and tissue.  As the marks lighten through progressive treatments, it is a sign that the underlying conditions are improving.

Cupping is safe, as long as you are treated by a licensed acupuncturist who has been thoroughly trained in diagnosing your underlying pattern and provides an effective treatment strategy.