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What Is Cupping?


Cupping is therapy that is used, usually on the back and neck, to relieve pain.  The cups create a suction when placed on the skin.


The Chinese theory for cupping is that it increases circulation and resolves blood stasis.  Blood stasis is how Chinese medicine explains pain.  The energy and blood get stuck.

There are a variety of ways to move the blocked energy and blood.  You can use massage, acupuncture, Chinese herbs and cupping.  There are other techniques also.

There are two types of cupping that are common.  There is Fire Cupping.  A ball of cotton is soaked in alcohol and lit on fire.  It is then placed inside a glass jar so the air in the jar is heated.

The jar, with no burning cotton in it, is placed on the skin.  The heat in the jar pulls the skin into the cup and the area under the cup turns purple.  After it turns purple, you know the blood has been pulled to the surface.  That helps to resolve stagnant blood.

  This is fire cupping.  The jar is glass.

There is also moving cupping.  You can either put the cup on the back and leave it there a few minutes, or you can put oil on the back and move the cup around on the skin.

If your acupuncturist does not do fire cupping, suction cups are another option.  Suction cups use a pump device that pulls air out of the cup so the suction occurs.  You can then either leave the cups on the skin, or move them around.

This is suction cup cupping.  Notice how purple his skin is.  It is pulling the blood to the surface.

One of the side effects of cupping is that is tends to bruise.  If you need cupping, it can leave purple marks on your back that will resolve in a few days.  It can look like an octopus attacked you.  Since cupping is now a lot more well known, fewer people are concerned with this.

You will either have round purple circles where the cupping was done, or you can have other purple marks where you did moving cupping.