If you’ve ever noticed perfect circular-shaped hickeys on the backs of friends, strangers, or even (more recently) celebrities, then you are familiar with the side-effects of cupping. This ancient healing modality uses suction created by thick glass cups to promote circulation and expel certain pathogenic influences. We most often use this modality for respiratory conditions, gastrointestinal disorders and pain. Cupping can also loosen muscles and sedate the nervous system, making it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure.
To create this suction, we light an alcohol-soaked cotton ball on fire, insert it into the cup and then remove it quickly before adhering the cup to the skin. This process expels the oxygen from the inside of the cup, creating a vacuum. Sometimes the cups are moved gently across the skin, and other times we might leave them in place for up to 10 minutes.
Although the practice of cupping is very safe, the suction can often result in circular bruising. While these bruises are not typically painful, they can leave you with some explaining to do! Cupping is often used in combination with acupuncture during a treatment, but can also be used on its own depending on the condition being treated. Check out our FAQ page for a list of treatable conditions using cupping along with other modalities available in Chinese medicine.