The Ancient Art of Cupping

This year’s summer Olympics brought cupping, the traditional healing modality often used in Chinese medicine, into the limelight. Gold-medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, among other Olympians, sported the telltale circular red marks that cupping leaves on the skin. In response, dozens of articles in all the major news sources featured articles about cupping, which has helped raise public interest in this powerful and ancient healing technique.

cupping cupsCupping is a deep-tissue healing method that has been practiced across the globe for thousands of years. While this ancient art has been lost in many of today’s cultures, it has remained an important technique in traditional Chinese medicine.

In this therapy, glass, plastic or bamboo cups are applied to the skin with suction. Suction is achieved by burning the oxygen inside the cup with a flame, and then quickly setting the cup on the skin. Alternatively, and more commonly at Arogya, the negative pressure is achieved with a small hand pump which removes the air from the cup. The suction pulls the skin up into the cup, affecting the tissue up to 4-inches below.

The cups are placed in strategic locations, often on specific acupuncture points, or directly on or around the site of pain. The first 30-60 seconds the cup is on the body, the sensation can be a little intense. However, as the body relaxes, the sensation becomes very pleasant, and deeply relaxing, almost like a massage. The cups are generally left on the skin for up to 10 minutes, or gently moved back and forth across an area.

Depending on the severity of the problem treated, the cups will leave pink to red to dark purple marks on the skin. The lighter marks take just a couple days to go away, while the darker marks, a sign of a more severe muscular or toxicity issue, can take up to 7-10 days to return to normal.

The suction of the cups pulls cell-waste, toxin, and acid build-up to the surface capillaries, where fresh, oxygen-rich blood can process and eliminate them quickly and effectively. The cups also relieve muscle spasm and tension, as well as stagnant Qi, blood and lymph, by bringing promotes Qi and blood circulation and healing. Cupping is a powerful tool that with many applications including:

  • Arthritiscupping
  • Bronchial Congestion, Coughing & Asthma
  • Colds & Flu
  • Deep tissue treatment
  • Detoxification
  • Digestive Issues
  • Headache & Migraines
  • Inflammation
  • Menstrual Cramps
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain

And benefits including:

  • Activating and promoting healing
  • Dispelling damp, cold & heat
  • Improving elimination
  • Increasing suppleness of muscles & tendons
  • Relaxing the nervous system

All it takes is one session to experience first-hand the benefits of cupping. Due to the immediate sense of relief and relaxation cupping provides, many of our clients request it during their acupuncture sessions.

Curious about cupping? Call Arogya today (203-226-2682) to book an appointment with Arogya’s licensed acupuncturist Gregor Bertram.


by Chloe Bolton