What is it?

Cupping is an ancient Chinese deep tissue therapy in which a cup is applied to the skin and the pressure in the cup is reduced (either by heat or suction) in order to draw and hold skin and superficial muscles inside the cup, causing local congestion. There is greater emphasis on the back acupuncture points due to the ease with which it can be performed. Cupping is frequently used after acupuncture and was developed to open up the meridians of the body. It was based on the meridian theory of the body, and designed to remove any stagnation in the body whilst opening the meridians so that qi can flow freely. It also helps to rejuvenate certain meridians and organs that are not functioning at their best, and to withdraw toxins to the surface of the body. Cupping is also known to help activate the lymphatic system, promote blood circulation, and is good for deep tissue repair. When applied to the back, there are five meridians that can be opened to allow the energy to travel throughout the entire length of the body.

How does it work?

One form of cupping includes “blood letting” where by a pricking needle is used on a vein before the cup is applied over the site. Usually, 3-4 drops of blood is drawn to promote blood circulation and to remove stasis, and alleviate swelling and pain. Some bruising along the site of the rim of the cup is expected.

Glass cups are commonly used since it is easy to view within the cup during treatment, allowing for the practitioner to evaluate the degree of response. These cups are depressurized by igniting either the alcohol inside the cup or a cotton ball dipped in alcohol is put inside the cup prior to placement. Recently, a new type of suction cup was developed whereby a valve at the top of the jar is operated by a small attached pump so that the practitioner can depressurize the cup without use of fire. This avoids some hazards and allows for greater control over the amount of suction. Cupping is mainly used for treating pain and is best applied to fleshy areas of the body.


Cupping has been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries, activate the skin, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins.


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