Cupping Therapy: Does it Work?

Although cupping therapy is trending now, it has been around for thousands of years. The text A Handbook of Prescriptions of Emergencies, written by a Taoist herbalist Ge Hong, documents using cupping methods around 300 AD. There is also earlier Chinese documentation, three thousand years old, recommending cupping for pulmonary tuberculosis.

Through its resurgence in popularity it’s proving to be quite beneficial in modern times! In fact, celebrities and Olympic athlete wear their cupping marks proudly.


What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping is a term applied to a technique that uses small glass cups as suction devices. Placing these cups on the back can treat colds, congestion in the lungs, and muscular aches and pains. We are place the cups on other muscle groups for pain treatment.  My favorite form of cupping is “running cups”.

First, I sanitize the bottom of the cups with a cotton ball dampened with rubbing alcohol. Then I light the cotton ball on fire and stick it quickly in the opening of cup. This creates a vacuum and suction effect. The cup is then immediately placed against the skin. Flames are never used near the skin. Practitioners take extra safety precautions when administering this technique.

Once the suction has occurred, the cups are gently moved across the skin. This is made possible with the lubrication of medical massage oils that are infused with herbs. This form of cupping therapy feels more like an inverted massage. The suction in the cups lightly pulls the skin and superficial muscle layer drawing them into the cup. Once we acquire adequate suction the cups can be left on your skin for 10 minutes maximum. The placement of the cups depends on your “trouble areas” or where you have the most pain and discomfort. For most people this is the neck, upper back and shoulders.


What are the Side Effects of Cupping Therapy?

The side effects of cupping are considered mild in nature. Bruising should be expected, but skin should return to looking normal within 10 days. I like to say that the bruising looks like octopus love bites.


Who Should I See for Cupping Therapy?

Due to the risk of burns, it is imperative that you see a trained health care provider for cupping. I recommend seeing a licensed acupuncturist or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner as we are best trained for the task.


The Philosophy behind cupping…

A common ancient Chinese medical quote is, “Where there’s stagnation, there will be pain. Remove the stagnation, and you remove the pain.”

The old Chinese medical texts hold that pain results from the stagnation, congestion, and blockage of Qi (vital energy), vital fluids, lymph, phlegm, and blood. Pain is then the result of obstructed or irregular flow of qi or blood in the body. Chinese cupping is therefore a method of breaking up the blockages. This helps restore the body’s natural flow of energy.


Does Cupping Really Work?

Yes! Cupping works wonders. When you’re trained practitioner exerts suction on the different points on the body by way of cupping, certain changes occur in superficial and deep muscle layers. These changes stimulate the body to heal itself. Traditional Chinese medicine cupping helps by:

  • Promoting the flow of blood to the muscles and tissues, and removing stagnation
  • Supplying oxygen and nutrients to the cells
  • Softening the tightened muscles
  • Loosening of adhesion and knots
  • Lifting the connecting tissues
  • Opening the blockages of the lymphatic nodes and easing the flow of lymph
  • Releasing and draining of excess fluids and toxins like lactic acid from the tissues and cells
  • Drawing inflammation from the deeper tissues to the surface of the skin so they can heal
  • Stimulating and later, calming the peripheral nervous system
  • Eliminating chronic congestion


What Does Cupping Therapy Treat?

Cupping effectively treats ailments like:

  • Stiff muscles
  • Stress
  • Migraines
  • Exhaustion and fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain

It can also be used in treatment of rheumatism, for weight loss, and my personal favorite, cellulite reduction treatments.

Cupping helps repair injured muscles. It also helps muscles that have accumulated lactic acid and other toxins as a result of exertion. Cupping drains toxins and pulls them to the lymph to be excreted.

Blood circulation is stimulated, and toxins that are released are moved to the lymph drainage network. This increase in blood flow helps repair the muscle by injecting it with more oxygen. Since cupping therapy also promotes a more efficient drainage of the lymph nodes, these toxins are quickly excreted from the body.

How Does Cupping Help with Weight Loss and Cellulite?

Cellulite is mainly caused because of a genetic condition which creates:
  • fluid retention,
  • an inefficient lymphatic drainage system, and
  • weak veins that can result in ineffective blood circulation
Other factors are that can also cause the development of more fat cells are:
  • Hormonal imbalances,
  • weak digestion, and
  • improper diet can also cause the development of more fat cells.
These factors may result in the fat cells lying under the skin converting into cellulite. This cellulite pushes up the fascia connecting the skin to the underlying muscle. This creates the dimpled appearance of cellulite.

Cupping releases the fascia connecting the skin and muscle. In this way, fluid build-up is reduced, and the skin develops a more cellulite-free healthy appearance.

To schedule your therapeutic cupping treatment in Denver click here.

Looking for a Denver acupuncture clinic to help you with all of your general health, mental health, chronic pain, fertility, gynecological, facial acupuncture, or digestive needs?

Contact Wellnest Acupuncture + Holistic Medicine at 720.618.0770 or book an appointment online.

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