In addition to acupuncture and herbology, cupping therapy has been part of Chinese medicine for over 2,500 years. Originally, animal horn was used for cupping, later on brass, ceramic, and bamboo cups were used. Today, we use glass cups in a variety of different sizes.
Cupping is like a very deep tissue massage. The practitioner applies heat in a cup and then applies that cup to the body, most commonly on the back. The heat creates a vacuum effect and draws the skin up into the cup. The result is a movement of fresh blood to the area, release of toxins, acupuncture point stimulation, increased circulation of blood and lymph, relaxation of tight muscles, and reduced inflammation.
Cupping does leave noticeable marks similar to a bruise or hickey that is sometimes referred to as “cup kisses”. Although they can look alarming, they are not painful and will disappear on their own within 3-7 days.
Most commonly, cupping is used for aches and pains of various types including low back and leg pain, neck and shoulder tension, and fibromyalgia. It also helps open up the chest and benefits the lungs to treat respiratory problems such as cough, bronchitis, asthma, and the like. It can even benefit menstrual problems and digestive problems including stomach aches, vomiting, and diarrhea.