What is Cupping?
Cupping is one of the oldest “external” methods of TCM. The earliest recorded use of cupping dates to the early fourth century, and it is documented in A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies. Cupping is a type of Chinese massage, consisting of placing several glass or plastic “cups,” or open spheres, on the body. The cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is placed inside the cup to remove all the oxygen. The substance is then removed before the practitioner places the cup against the skin. The air in the cup then cools, creating lower pressure inside the cup, thus creating a vacuum and allowing the cup to stick to the skin. Fleshy sites on the body, such as the back and stomach, are the preferred sites for treatment.
Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. When combined with massage oil, the cups can be slid around the back while drawing up the skin. Drawing up the skin is believed to stimulate the flow of blood, balance and realign the flow of Qi, break up obstructions, and create an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.