refers to an ancient traditional Chinese medicinal practice
in which a cup is applied to the skin and the pressure
in the cup is reduced (by using combustion or by
suctioning out air), so that the skin and superficial
muscle layer is drawn into and held in the cup. In some
cases, the cup may be moved while the suction of skin
is active, causing a regional pulling of the skin and
muscle (the technique is called gliding cupping).
has been used for thousands of years in China
and around the world. Ancient Egyptians (1550
BC) and ancient Greeks (413 BC) used cupping to
remove foreign matter from the body, diminish
pain, lessen inflammations, and restore appetite.
Its early uses were primarily to draw out pus
and blood in the treatment of boils and carbuncles.
Later, it was found to be effective in treating
other diseases and ailments. When the cup is left in place
on the skin for a few minutes, blood stasis is formed
and localized healing takes place.
The earliest written
record of cupping being used is Bo Shu, a silk
book that was found in a Han dynasty tomb. In
755 AD, cupping was recorded as being used to
treat tuberculosis. In 1055 AD, chronic cough
and poisonous snakebites were added to the list
of ailments that could be treated with cupping.
Cupping became very popular in Europe during the
1800’s for the treatment of many diseases.
However, during the 20th century, cupping died
out as a treatment due to the development of antibiotics
and fever-reducing drugs. Today, cupping is used
to treat "bi-syndrome" ("painful obstruction") in Chinese medicine, asthma, common cold, chronic
cough, indigestion problems, and skin conditions.
Early instruments for cupping included cattle
horns and bamboo cups. The first cupping therapy was applied using cattle
horns, which gave it the name "horn therapy”.
Originally, the Chinese applied hollowed-out animal
horns to the skin, sucked the air out of the horn and
then blocked the opening with one finger, drawing
up the underlying tissues.
Sheepskin valves were also
used to create suction in the cups. Modern suction
cupping is still very similar to old methods,
but some new developments include electronic,
electrical, and mechanized suction pumps. Electromagnetic
cupping has been shown to increase the therapeutic
effectiveness of cupping, especially when applied
to the joints.
therapy was further developed in Chinese medicine as a means to open
the "Meridians" of the body. Meridians are the conduits
through which energy flows to every part of the body
and through every organ and tissue. There are five meridians
on the back that, when opened, allow invigorating energy
to travel the entire length of the body. It has been
found that cupping is probably the best way of opening
has also been found to affect the body up to four inches
into the tissues. It was considered that this caused tissues to release toxins,
activated the lymphatic system, cleared colon blockages,
helped activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries,
activated the skin, cleared stretch marks and improved varicose
Because of the depth of its effect, cupping is among the best deep tissue massages available.
Cupping is useful, safe, and free from side effects;
it can easily learned and incorporated into your family
recent scientific and technological developments, cupping
therapy is gaining more and more acknowledgement and acceptance in western medicine. Throughout the world, more and more people
are using this simple, traditional method for healing
and keeping fit.
Cupping glasses are bell shaped with openings about
1 - 2 inches across. Before applying to the skin, the
therapist dips a burning cotton ball in alcohol and
briefly holds it in the cupping glass. When the glass
is applied to the skin, the warmed air inside quickly
cools and contracts, creating a vacuum that causes the
glass to adhere to the skin by suction. In "bloody cupping,"
the skin is scratched with a sterilized lancet before
the cups are applied.
The therapist palpates the patient's back to find any
hardening or swelling, and then applies up to 12 cupping
glasses to those places. Cupping is usually done to
the left and right of the spine, but painful joints
or muscle hardening in other parts of the body, such
as the abdomen or the legs, can also be treated with
cupping. The cupping glasses remain on the skin for
Cupping draws blood to the surface area of the body
where the cups are applied. This increase blood flow
relieves muscle cramping, hardening of tissue and associated
pain. Because specific reflex zones on the back, abdomen
and legs correspond to organs, cupping can be used to
promote the workings of, for example, the kidneys, gallbladder,
liver or lungs. Cupping can also mobilize the immune
system. The treatment creates temporary, localized bruises,
which - like all bruises - activate the body's defensive
cells to heal the bruised area. Dry cupping is primarily
used for people with a weak constitution and low blood
pressure; it is never for patients with high blood pressure.
Bloody cupping helps clear the body of accumulated irritants
that cause inflammation.
Methods of Administration
Dry or bloody cupping?
If body areas are hardened and have poor circulation,
the therapist will choose dry cupping, in order to attract
blood flow to those areas. Circular bruises will usually
result in such cases, but they will heal within a week.
If the problem areas are swollen with excessive blood
flow, the therapist will choose bloody cupping. Under
certain circumstances in bloody cupping, the therapist
will repeat cupping in the same place, applying a new
glass several times in succession until all the accumulated
blood has been removed.
Using acupuncture meridians
A therapist sometimes applies the principles of acupuncture
to achieve an overall strengthening of the body. According
to these principles, the bladder meridian runs about
1 inch to the side of the spine. Located on it are the
influence points for all internal organs, and these
points can be stimulated by cupping. This stimulation
can also help anemic patients.
The cupping massage
In this special form of cupping, the patient's back
is rubbed with a special salve (or oil) that promotes blood flow
and lubricates the skin. The therapist then pulls
a large massage cupping glass with a very rounded edge
across the back with slow, even movements.
Suction Cupping has adopted the advantage of traditional
cups and avoided the weakness of conventional cups.
The cups are transparent so that the change of the skin
and bleeding within the cup is easily observable, and
duration of cupping is well controlled. Since this method
does not use fire, there is no danger of burning the
skin, and the negative pressure inside the cup is controllable
based on each patient's respective condition. The Suction
Cupping appliance, is practically unbreakable, convenient,
safe and suitable for both hospital and family use.