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The Art of Cupping

Cupping is an ancient art that has been used in many cultures for thousands of years and is a very effective method of relieving pain. There are different methods of cupping and all of them work very well at improving circulation and reducing stagnation.  Because, in effect, pain really is stagnation and in  the area of pain, it is not receiving normal circulation of blood and oxygen.


Physical pain indicates a blockage in the flow of blood, oxygen and energy through the area and is due to a build up of toxins. Normal function of cells is using oxygen and excreting carbon dioxide, so when there is a blockage the cell waste cannot exit normally and stagnation occurs. When this happens in deeper tissues like the muscles of the back and shoulders, the body has trouble getting rid of this waste causing further stagnation and pain.

Cupping is used through suction to reach the deeper areas and help the body bring those toxins to the surface of the skin where they can then be eliminated through the capillaries at the superficial layer of the skin. Not only does cupping draw toxins out of the deeper areas but also pulls fresh, oxygenated blood to those areas which vitalize and restore proper blood flow. 

Styles of Cupping

Cups don't usually need to be applied for more than 10 minutes and can be slightly uncomfortable for the first few minutes. There are different styles of cupping which can be used depending on the area being treated and time available. Sliding cupping is used with a linament or oil for ease of movement and is usually medicated, containing blood moving herbs with eucalyptus or peppermint to open the channels for more effective cupping results.  This type of cupping is also effective for minimizing the appearance of cellulite.  Sliding cupping usually is a 10-15 minute session. Stationary cupping can also be used with linament but typically is used alone and with sessions lasting from 15-45 minutes. 

Silcone or plastic, flexible style cups are suitable for smaller, curved areas such as the face, neck, shoulders, elbows, knees and feet. These are used with a suction tool to pull air out of the cup after it is placed on the body. Another style of silicone cups allows for just squeezing the cup and placing on the body to create suction.  Bleeding cupping can be used for severe pain or to release toxins. 

Glass or fire cupping is for larger areas of the body like the back, upper thighs and legs. Glass cupping suction is created with a flame or torch inserted in the middle of the glass cup which forces oxygen out and creates suction. This is immediately placed on the body before the oxygen returns. Glass cups come in different sizes appropriate for the different areas of the body.  

Results of Cupping 

Cupping is diagnostic as well as therapeutic and can indicate where stagnation is occurring in the body and how severe it is. When a cup is placed over an area of pain on the body it will usually turn pink with slight stagnation and could turn dark purple or even black with severe stagnation. It could take several treatments to clear and up to 10 days for discoloration to fade. 

Cupping is an extraordinary method of relieving pain and healing can be shortened by weeks or even months using this modality.  It can remove blockages in a way that acupuncture needles alone cannot.  And when used with Acupuncture, it is a very effective way to prevent recurrences of pain in problem areas and maintain healthy blood flow and oxygenation throughout the body. 

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