What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping TherapyI wrote before that acupuncture needles are not as frightening as hypodermic needles, but I also wanted to mention that I have other modalities for people who fear of needles. The first of many modalities is Cupping therapy.

What is cupping?

We use cups to create a vacuum to create suction on the skin. The suction pulls on the skin forming a stagnation or blood stasis or bruising.


fire cups1What kind of cups are being used?

I like to use the traditional glass cups. The edges are smoother and I could move the cups if I wanted to. With glass cups, I would have to use fire to create the vacuum. So I would use metal tongs and soak cotton balls with alcohol then light the cotton ball. With my torch, I would put the cup over the flame then quickly pull away from the heat and place the cup on the person.




plastic cupsBut I’ve seen plastic cups, silicone cups. What is the difference?

The plastic and/or silicone cups require manual pumping to create the suction. There are two advantages to using these kind of cups, the suction is easier to control and there is no fire needed so less potential for accidents. However, with plastic/silicone cups I have a hard time moving them.



What is moving cups?

Moving cups is very similar to a very deep tissue massage.First I apply a massage oil or lotion. Then with use of suction of the one cup, I would move the cup up and down around a tight area to loosen up the muscles.

Where is cupping appropriate?

Cupping therapy is more appropriate for larger areas like the back, thighs, and stomach. There are small cups for facial cupping, but I have never done that.

What is purpose to cupping?

Cupping is a therapy with the intention to warm the body. Cupping promotes better energy, oxygen and blood flow, dispels any kind of cold and diminishes swellings and pains.

Who should get cupped?

Cupping is helpful for people who suffer back, hip or leg pain that is described as stiff and painful and worsens in cold and/or damp conditions. People with painful menstrual cramps with bloating and a cold heavy sensation, gastrointestinal disorders like stomach pains, vomiting, diarrhea and lung diseases like common cold, cough and asthma with chest congestion that is worse in the cold and/or damp conditions will experience the most relief with cupping.

Who can’t get cupped?

Cupping is to be avoided for people with skin ulcer, edema, high fever and convulsion. In addition,there is no cupping on the abdominal and sacral regions for pregnant women and people who have clotting problems and/or who are taking blood thinners who are susceptible to spontaneous bleeding.

What are the effects after cupping?

Usually after a cupping session, a patient might feel sore but looser. I’d like to add that most commonly, cupping is combined with another therapy like massage or acupuncture so to provide the most comfortable and relaxing treatment.

What are the side effects of cupping?

There will be a bruise in the shape of the mouth of the cup that will disappear on its own in a few days. The bruise should not hurt. Rarely, there is blistering caused by the strong suction. If yes, please cover the blister and let it heal on its own.

Is it painful?

Cupping therapy should NOT be painful. It is strong manipulation of the skin and tissues underneath to release tension, but not painful.

How do I, as the practitioner,  prevent anyone from getting burned?

My live flame is never over my patient’s body and I never use too much alcohol.

How long does cupping take?

The cups will sit on an area for 5 minutes, give or take a minute or two, but not longer so to avoid blistering of the skin. I might do a second session of cupping if the whole area that needed to be cupped was not covered in the first session.

How long as cupping therapy been around?

During the Tang Dynasty (618-906 AD), cupping was prescribed work entitled Necessities of a Frontier Official for a condition similar to pulmonary tuberculosis. So for at least over a millenium if not longer.

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