Cupping is one of the traditional Chinese medicine therapies, first used more than 5,000 years ago, to remove stagnation and pain.
During a cupping treatment, a cotton swab is saturated with high-density alcohol and the swab is lit. The burning swab is then used to wipe around the inside of a glass cup, causing the air inside to burn up, creating a partial vacuum. The cup is placed quickly on the appropriate acupuncture point or meridian and left there for 15 to 20 minutes.
Under the pressure from the vacuum, tiny capillaries expand and stimulate the movement of blood and lymphatic fluids. The therapeutic effects are to improve blood circulation, reduce swelling and pain, and boost immune function. In Chinese medicine, it warms and promotes the flow of qi and blood and dispels cold and dampness.
Conditions that have responded well to cupping include: pain in the lower back, shoulders and legs from overwork or too much exercise; muscle aches from cold and flu; gastrointestinal and menstrual disorders; migraines and other headaches; rheumatoid arthritis; paralysis, twitching, or numbness in limbs after strokes or with Parkinson’s disease; and multiple sclerosis.