Cupping is one of the oldest methods of Traditional Chinese Medicine and one of my favorites. It has been part of Chinese Medicine for over 2,500 years. Originally, animal horns made up the cups and later on, brass, ceramic and bamboo cups were used. Today, most acupuncturists use cups made of thick glass or plastic. I personally prefer the glass cups, aside from easy cleaning and desinfecting, they do not break easily and they allow me to see the skin and evaluate the effects of treatment.
In a regular cupping treatment, glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball soaked in alcohol (It could be seen in the picture above.) The cotton is then ignited and placed inside the cup. Burning a substance inside the cup removes all the oxygen, which in turn creates a vacuum. The cup is turned upside down and it is then placed over a specific area. A vacuum is created and the cup is anchored to the skin which in turn is pulled upward and begins to change colors almost immediately; depending on how bad the problem is, from pink to almost black. The darker the color the more congested the area is. Cupping stimulates blood flow by creating local trauma and drawing out toxins from the muscle and since our body is very smart, it will immediately deploy an army of fresh blood with lots of oxygen and regeneration agents to the area where the cup is.
Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 15 minutes. I will also apply small amounts of herbal and essentials oils custom-mixed by myself before the cupping procedure, which allows me to move the cups up and down particular points and meridians.
Aside from pain, cupping can also be used to treat respiratory conditions, such as bronchitis and asthma; arthritis; gastrointestinal disorders; depression; and it is also used with great results to alleviate labor pain and menstrual cramps as well.