What is Cupping Therapy?

Chinese Cupping Therapy

Chinese Cupping Therapy. Keith Brofsky / Getty Images

Cupping therapy is a process of suctioning or vacuuming sections of the body's meridian system for the purpose of drawing out toxins, pain management, increasing blood flow, relaxation, and promoting a healthier flow of chi energies.

Often attributed to the Chinese cutlure, the origins of cupping actually unknown. The practice of cupping has been noted historically in many places, ancient Egypt, Greece, by Native Americans, and throughout Europe. 

Using cupping as a therapy was first documented in writings by Chinese alchemist Ge Hong. As a result, cupping is sometimes called Chinese Cupping Therapy. Certainly, the Chinese have used cupping therapy extensively, it is categorized as a treatment within the TMC (Traditional Chinese Medicine), system of Eastern healing. Other types of TMC treatments are acupressure, acupuncture, use of medicinal herbs, Moxibustion, Qigong and Tuina

Cupping Therapy Complements Massage and Acupuncture

The massage therapist or acupuncturist will apply massage oil or baby oil to your skin prior to placement of the cups. The air inside each cup is heated with a flame prior to placing the cup upside down directly onto the skin. As a result, a suction sensation occurs and the cup attaches itself to the body. The cups are then left on the body for only a few minutes.

Typically, the cups are placed upon the client's back, but they will sometimes be positioned on other parts of the body such as the stomach, thighs, even the neck. 

Circular welt marks and purplish discolorations, an effect of the air pressure, could possibly remain on the skin for up to fifteen days following your treatment. No need for concern, no harm. But you might want to keep the marks hidden away with clothing if you are not willing to answer questions about them. The marks do look curious. I'm certain you have experienced that people are seldom shy about asking questions about things that seem odd or different to them. Not only will your family and friends be interested, but also strangers.

Traditional VS Modern Day Cups

Traditional cups that were typically used in cupping therapy were made of glass or bamboo, also hollowed out animal horns. Today, there are a variety of cupping sets on the market, primarily made of glass, but also plastic and silicone. New versions incorporate the use of magnets and a vacuum pump and magnets in leu of using a flame. The practice of using silicone cups is called baguanfa.

Ailments Treated by Cupping Therapy Include:

  • Headaches
  • Migraines
  • Arthritis
  • Muscular aches and pains
  • Sciatica and back pain
  • Rheumatic conditions
  • Weakened immune systems
  • Sports medicine

References: Massage Cupping: www.massagecupping.com - Massage Mag: www.massagemag.com, Cupping Therapy: www.cuppingtherapy.org

Disclaimer: The information contained on this site is intended for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for advice, diagnosis or treatment by a licensed physician. You should seek prompt medical care for any health issues and consult your doctor before using alternative medicine or making a change to your regimen.