Cupping, placing suction cups on the skin, is an ancient healing method shared by many cultures. It is a pleasant technique. Its original purpose was to draw pus and blood away from skin infections like boils. Over hundreds of years, cupping has evolved into a more sophisticated therapy with many indications.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) assigns different causes for various conditions. For example, in TCM, infections result from “True Heat” in the blood. Some painful conditions, like those resulting from injury, evolve from stuck “Blood” and “Qi.” (In TCM, “Blood” is different from the Western term blood, and, with “Qi” include inflammation.) According to TCM, when “Blood” and “Qi” “stagnate”, or become stuck, they create “Heat” and pain. Cupping creates suction at the skin to draw out this type of “Heat” and to reduce pain. In chronic pain with a great deal of stuck “Blood”, a small pin prick bleed may be added to the cupping.
Cupping is traditionally performed with glass cups. The air inside the cup is briefly heated. As it cools, a vacuum is created, attaching the cup to the skin. The cups may stay in place for about twenty minutes, or may be slid around the back to address a larger area. On curved locations, silicone or rubberized suction cups may be used.
The cupping sensation is usually regarded as pleasant, and helps eliminate pain very quickly.