What is cupping?

Cupping is a procedure in which a rounded glass cup is warmed and placed upside down over an area of the body, creating suction that holds the cup to the skin. Cupping increases the flow of blood. In traditional Chinese medicine, it is also thought to increase the flow of qi (vital energy).

This answer is based on source information from the National Cancer Institute.

Dr. Daniel Hsu, DAOM
Alternative & Complementary Medicine Specialist

Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicine technique used in conjunction with acupuncture to enhance its effect. In cupping, a glass or plastic cup is suctioned onto the body and kept in place for about 10 minutes. This stimulates circulation, relieves swelling, and enhances the acupuncture or electro-acupuncture.

This treatment, which was used in ancient times and is still used today, involves applying empty cups to a patient's skin and then pumping or vacuuming the air out of the cups, to draw the blood toward the surface, or even through it.

Dr. Maoshing Ni, PhD, LAc
Geriatric Medicine Specialist

Cupping is a treatment modality used in traditional medical practices of many cultures. In Chinese medicine, it is often combined with acupuncture or moxabustion in order to address various conditions.

The most common use for cupping is for localized pain and musculoskeletal conditions. The cups are usually clear glass bulbs that the practitioner places on the body with the help of a flaming cotton ball or manual pump to create a vacuum and draw out pathogens from the skin. It is not uncommon to receive large red or blue skin blemishes after a treatment. These are normal and will subside within two to three days.

Dr. Henry McCann, DAOM
Alternative & Complementary Medicine Specialist

Cupping is an ancient Chinese therapy that can help relieve various kinds of pain. To learn more, watch this video featuring licensed acupuncturist and oriental medicine practitioner Dr. Henry McCann.

Cupping is a treatment that acupuncturists have used for thousands of years to stimulate the circulation of blood. Cups are placed on the skin and a vacuum-like feel is created using a pump. This causes a lack of oxygen, and some of the tissue is sucked up into the cup. That process stimulates the circulation of blood, breaks up adhesion, and creates a pathway for toxins or metabolic wastes to be drawn up through the skin, through the muscle and out of the body as it returns to the blood and lymph system.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.