Cupping is one of several modalities used within traditional Chinese medicine and is one of the oldest, dating back to as early as the fourth century.

Fire Cups

In ancient times, practitioners used hollowed-out horns, bamboo, iron, pottery, and glass to do cupping. Today most acupuncturists use cups made of glass or plastic, sometimes using bamboo or pottery. The traditional way to do cupping involves using fire to expel the oxygen from the cups. The acupuncturist then quickly places the cup in the desired spot. As the air is being replaced, a vacuum is created by the lack of oxygen, making the cup stick to the skin, pulling the skin up inside the cup. Glass cups are the preferred method, although some acupuncturists use plastic cups that have pumps that help to achieve the same result.

How Does Cupping When is it Appropriate to use?
When circulation is sluggish or compromised in an injured or diseased area, the cells are deprived of oxygen so there is a local build-up of waste products. The suction created by the cups pulls out the toxins, pathogenic factors, blood poison, dead lymph and cellular debris from deep within the tissues to the surface, helping to expel them from the body. It can take from several hours to a few weeks for the waste deposits to dissipate. The quality of the disease-causing factor varies according to the severity of the patient’s blood stasis. The appearance can be light pink to dark purple and can sometimes result in blisters forming.

Patient Being Treated for Neck Pain

In China, cupping is used primarily to treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and congestion; arthritis; gastrointestinal disorders; and certain types of pain. Some practitioners also use cupping to treat headaches, dizziness, abdominal pain, depression and reduce swelling. Fleshy sites on the body, such as the back and stomach (and, to a lesser extent, the arms and legs), are the preferred sites for treatment