Cupping Therapy

How does cupping work?

Cupping is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine. Traditionally, practitioners used hollowed animal horn, bamboo, or pottery to perform cupping therapy. Today, thick glass or plastic cups are used by removing the oxygen out of the cup and creating a vacuum on the skin. By suctioning the cup to the skin, opens the skin’s pores, helping to stimulate the flow of blood, balance the flow of nutrients to the tissues, break up obstructions, and pull toxins to the surface to help excrete them from the body.

Cupping therapy can be applied for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the condition being treated. Sometimes during cupping therapy, a small amount of medicated or herbal oils are applied to the skin, which allows the cups to move up and down particular acupoints or meridians after they have been applied. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time to help their condition.

Is cupping safe? Does it hurt?

 

While cupping is considered relatively safe, it may cause some swelling and bruising on the skin. Bruising is common with cupping therapy and usually painless, disappearing within a few days of treatment.

Contraindications for cupping therapy include areas of inflamed skin, patients experiencing high fever, epilepsy or convulsion disorders, and patients with a bleeding condition, which may include patients who may be taking blood thinners, are not suitable candidates for cupping. While cupping is safe to perform during pregnancy, pregnant women should avoid cupping on their abdomen or lower back and sacrum.

 

What does it treat?

Cupping is primarily recommended for treating:

  • pain or muscle problems

  • gastrointestinal problems

  • lung or respiratory conditions (bronchitis, asthma, and chronic cough)

  • paralysis, bell's palsy, or hemiplegia 

Cupping therapy may also benefit other disorders as well. Consult your practitioner to find out if cupping is recommended to add to your acupuncture treatment or as a stand-alone therapy.