Cupping is an extremely old technique of Chinese medicine. The method was also used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. Originally, practitioners would use hollowed-out animal horns for cups, and place them over particular points or meridians.
Today, most acupuncturists use cups made of thick glass or plastic and occasionally a more traditional bamboo. Glass cups are the preferred method due to their durability and the acupuncturist is able to observe the skin within the cup to evaluate the strength and effect of the treatment.
How does cupping work?
Usually the glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol, lit and then placed inside the cup. This action removes all the oxygen and creates a vacuum.
The cup is then turned placed over a specific area on the skin. The suction created by the lack of oxygen allows the cup to stick to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores and helps to stimulate the flow of blood, allowing any obstruction to break down and the debris and toxins can move out of the body.
Several cups are often used and either left in place for 5-10 minutes or moved around with the help of massage oils on the skin.