Cupping is a therapy that comes from Eastern medicine. In a cupping therapy session, cups are placed on the skin in such a way that they create suction. The suction mobilizes blood flow, which helps overcome ailments and improves overall health. Cupping has been used by medical practitioners for millennia. Ancient Chinese, Middle Eastern and Egyptian physicians used the treatment, as do many people today.
The cups used for cupping may vary slightly in shape, and they can be made of a few different materials. Acupuncturists often use bamboo, earthenware, or glass cups. Some use rubber or silicone cups, instead.
Cupping therapy treatments can be categorized into dry and wet cupping therapies. Dry cupping uses only the suction created by the cups. Wet cupping combines the suction treatment with controlled medicinal bleeding.
In traditional cupping therapies, suction is created by lighting a small fire in each cup. A fast-burning substance, like rubbing alcohol, dried herbs, or paper, is typically used. The fire burns long enough to warm up the air in the cup but not so long that the cup becomes too hot to apply to the skin. Once the fire is extinguished, the cup is put on the skin so that an air-tight seal is formed. As the air cools, it condenses and creates suction. More modern techniques use a pump to create the suction. Pumps are typically used in conjunction with either rubber or silicone cups.
A typical cupping appointment lasts about as long as an acupuncture appointment. Once everything is in order, the cups are applied to the skin. They’re left in place for a few minutes, often 15 to 20 minutes. They’re then removed, and any additional procedures that were planned are performed before the appointment concludes.