Cupping is the application of cups to specific points on a person’s body through suction. Cups come in various sizes and materials (glass, plastic, bamboo etc.), and are secured to the skin through a variety of ways (fire, water, or vacuum cupping). The cups are placed on areas of pain, tightness, or dysfunction, and left in place for a given amount of time.
Cupping uses negative pressure to increase localized blood flow and lymphatic flow in the tissues. Additionally, it helps the body build new blood vessels to further increase the blood flow to the area5. This increase of blood flow to the area makes the area more metabolically active, which makes it more efficient at healing and getting rid of pain chemicals and waste in the area.
Anecdotally and clinically, cupping has been used to treat a plethora of ailments from gout to asthma, but little or no research has been performed to validate many of these cupping claims5. Scientifically, cupping has been shown to help with chronic neck and back pain, decreasing joint pain, improving range of motion, as well as decreasing muscle tension and tenderness5.
One study found that, “cupping therapy combined with other treatments, such as acupuncture or medications, showed significant benefit over other treatments alone in effecting a cure for herpes zoster [shingles], acne, facial paralysis, and cervical spondylosis.2”
Additionally, cupping has even been shown to “increase a patient’s general feeling of wellbeing1.”
A cupping session may last from 10-20 minutes.
Since each person and case is unique, a qualified doctor should evaluate and prescribe a specific treatment to suit the needs of the individual. On average, though, 4-5 treatments in a 2 week period is a good starting point.
Most people do not report pain while cupping, and in fact, many people find it very relaxing. In fact, a recent study found that on a scale of 0-100 (0=”not relaxed at all”, and 100= “very relaxed”), people on average rated their relaxation while cupping at 911. You may feel a pulling sensation where the cups are, but even the pulling sensation decreases after a few minutes. Pain is a subjective measure, though, so people who tend to be very sensitive to touch may experience slight discomfort.
Cupping is a very safe therapeutic procedure when performed by a trained practitioner. The most common side effects of cupping include mild tenderness and bruising at the cupping site. The bruising from cupping depends on the person, but typically lasts less than a week. In patients suffering from psoriasis, cupping may cause localized psoriatic plaques at the site of cupping, known as the Koebner phenomenon3.
$30 per treatment or 5 sessions for $125.