What Is Cupping?

With all this publicity about the Olympic athletes using cupping to help boost their performance and recovery time, I thought you would like to learn more about cupping.

The Ancient Art Of Cupping Therapy

Cupping Therapy is the method of using glass, plastic, bamboo, or suction cups to create localized pressure by a vacuum.


Chinese medicine practitioners have been using this healing modality for thousands of years. In ancient times they utilized this technique by using heat inside glass or bamboo cups.



Acupuncturists and Chinese Medicine practitioners/doctors of today also use plastic “suction” cupping sets, which also uses a suction to create vacuum type of feel.

The “vacuum” made inside the cups causes the blood to form in the area and help the healing in that area. This “vacuum” technique is utilized by all cupping instruments mentioned above.


Cupping therapy has been found in ancient records dating back 3500 years and it is still used today by many Acupuncturists and Chinese Medicine practitioners/doctors.

New advancement in technology and materials have been integrated with cupping therapies and its uses now range for many different treatments and applications.


In Acupuncture and Chinese medicine we utilize several methods of usage with “cupping”, depending upon the patients needs. Only Licensed Acupuncturists, Acupuncturist Physicians and Doctors of Chinese medicine have enough knowledge, clinical experience, and expertise to differentiate the appropriate diagnostic and treatment method for each individual patient.

Uses And Benefits Of Cupping Therapy

Acupuncture and Chinese medicine practitioners/doctors use cupping for several different purposes. Here are a few:


1. Promotes Relaxation And Helps Treat Respiratory Issues

The body contains Meridians. These meridians are energetic pathways in the body which the energy of life called Qi (“chi”) flows through. It flows through every body part – tissue and organs.

Like acupuncture, cupping follows the lines of the meridians. There are many meridian pathways within the body on which these suction cups can be placed. Using these meridian (energetic) pathways, cupping can help to align and relax qi, as well as target more specific maladies.


By targeting the meridian (energetic) pathways, cupping strives to ‘open’ these channels – the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, through all tissues and organs, thus providing a smoother and more free-flowing qi (life force).

Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin.


Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected materials. Even hands, wrists, legs, and ankles can be ‘cupped’, thus applying the healing to specific organs that correlate with these points.

This treatment is also valuable for the lungs, and can clear congestion from a common cold or help to control a person’s asthma.

In fact, respiratory conditions are one of the most common maladies that cupping is used to relieve. Three thousand years ago, in the earliest Chinese documentation of cupping, it was recommended for the treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis. Cupping is also used for facial rejuvenation.

2. Releases Lympathic Toxins

The healing aspect of cupping therapy is through the release of toxins in your body. The suction from the cups can penetrate deep into your tissues causing the tissues to release harmful toxins.

The cupping draws fresh blood and lymph into the tissue to accelerate the healing response. It triggers the lymphatic system, clears the blood vessels, and stretches and activates the skin.

3. Reduces Inflammation, Pain, And Cramping

Myo-fascial, trigger point, musculo-tendon, musculoskeletal cupping, is used when there is injury, either chronic or traumatic, the fascia is also affected, not just the muscles, ligaments and tendons.

If the network of fascial planes is disrupted due to scar tissue adhesions (sometimes referred to as knots), restrictions in function and mobility will result.

Cupping helps with decreasing mechanical connective tissue changes following inflammation or trauma, decreasing trigger points, decreasing myofascial dysfunction, scar adhesions, scar tissue, and decreasing myofascial syndromes; i.e. faulty patterning due to hypertonic muscles.

As with any medical procedure, there are several cautions and contraindications with cupping. A thorough and correct diagnosis of each individual patient is required to ensure the safe application of any technique. Licensed Acupuncturists receive extensive training and testing on the practice and use of cupping. (Do not try this at home please!)