Cupping is one of the oldest methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The earliest recorded use of cupping dates to the early fourth century, when the noted herbalist Ge Hong wrote about a form of cupping in A Handbook of Prescriptions.
In a typical cupping session, glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol, let, then placed inside the cup removes all the oxygen, which creates a vacuum.
As the substance burns, the cup is turned upside-down so that the practitioner can place the cup over a specific area. The vacuum anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools. Drawing up the skin opens up the skin’s pores, which infuses the area with oxygen, breaks up obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.
Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Medicated or herbal oils can be applied to the skin just before the cupping procedure. Cupping is used primarily to treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and congestion. It is also quite effective for arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, and certain types of pain. Some practitioners also use cupping to treat depression and reduce swelling. The back and stomach (and, to a lesser extent, the arms and legs), are the preferred sites for treatment.
Cupping will leave round bruise marks after treatment, but are not painful nor harmful.