What Is Acupuncture Cupping?

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  • Written By: Christina Edwards
  • Edited By: W. Everett
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  • Last Modified Date: 01 April 2020
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Acupuncture cupping is a type of traditional Chinese medicine. During this procedure, instead of the skin being stuck with needles, it is sucked into special cups. To do this, a flame is usually inserted into a cup before the rim of it is placed on the skin. The fire removes the oxygen, which creates a vacuum and sucks the skin into the cup. Acupuncturists claim that this procedure can increase circulation, relieve pain, and remove toxins from the body.

Unlike traditional acupuncture, cupping uses special cups instead of acupuncture needles. This procedure, however, may be combined with traditional acupuncture or a massage. The practice of Chinese cupping has been around for centuries.

Originally, cups used for this procedure were usually made from animal horns that had been had been hollowed out. Stalks of bamboo were also used for this procedure. Some modern day acupuncturists still use these primitive, yet effective, instruments for acupuncture cupping.

Today, acupuncture cupping is typically done using special glass cups. A piece of cotton or other natural material is first wrapped around a stick and dipped into a flammable liquid, such as alcohol. The material is then lit on fire and held in the glass.


Fire needs oxygen to burn. When the flame is placed in the cup, it removes all of the oxygen inside, which creates a vacuum. This vacuum causes the skin and top layers of flesh to be sucked into the cup when the rim of it is placed on the skin. This method is sometimes referred to as dry cupping.

Another type of acupuncture cupping is sometimes referred to as wet cupping. To perform this procedure, a small incision is first made in the skin, and a cup is placed over the incision. The vacuum inside the cup causes a small amount of blood to be drawn out of the body. An alternative to fire cupping involves air being drawn out of the cups via a hand or electric pump through small valves on the top of each cup.

Many people claim that there are a number of benefits of acupuncture cupping. First, this procedure draws blood to the surface of the skin, which can help stimulate circulation. When the cups are placed on certain acupuncture pressure points, they may also help relieve a variety of medical problems, including chronic pain and respiratory problems. Acupuncture cupping also helps open the skin's pores, which can help remove toxins from the body.

Most acupuncture cupping patients agree that this procedure is not as painful as it sounds. When the cups are applied, most people simply feel a slight tugging sensation. One of the side effects of acupuncture cupping, however, is a large purplish circle where each cup is placed. Although they can be rather unattractive, these spots will usually disappear within a few days after the procedure.


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