What Is


Cupping is an ancient Chinese method used to relieve muscle tension, promote blood and lymph circulation, detoxification and healing. We use small glass cups or bamboo jars as suction devices that are placed on the skin to disperse and break up stagnation and congestion. The color of the marks and the rate of fading are diagnostic indicators. These act as signs of the individual’s health condition.

What Is

Cupping Therapy?

Have you ever noticed celebrities showing up to events with little round marks on their backs? These come from cupping therapy. But what is it?

Cupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine that dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures. The therapist placed cups on the person’s skin to create suction. The cups are usually made of glass, bamboo, or earthenware.

Cupping therapy is based on the understanding of “Qi”  or life energy. This term comes from the Chinese language and means “Life force”.

When the cups are placed on the skin, it helps to stimulate blood flow and relieves pressure on muscles and connective tissues.

The goal is to promote healing, relieve pain and increase range of motion and flexibility.

What Does

Cupping Treat?

The primary purpose of cupping is to relieve pain. Besides, it can be helpful for chronic (ongoing) health issues.

Cupping can be beneficial for:

  • Various types of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Pain in the back, neck, knees, and shoulders.
  • Respiratory problems.
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Digestive system problem.
  • Migraines and headaches.

Cupping Therapy Scientifically Proven?

Researchers are exploring how and why cupping works. Numerous studies have reported the benefits of cupping therapy, including those for localized and systematic conditions.

According to the cupping theory, it promotes peripheral circulation, boosts immunity, and alleviates symptoms. An academic study published in 2017 found that cupping increases local blood flow and stretches underlying tissues by increasing their mechanical effect.

Activation of Heme oxygenase-1, a gene implicated in preventing inflammation of the blood vessels, may explain many of the positive health effects attributed to cupping therapy.

Based on the above studies, cupping may get rid of toxins by boosting immunity.


Cupping Help with Body Detox?

Detoxification is a metabolite that is easily understood by modern people, such as urea nitrogen, uric acid, lactic acid, etc. Some literature pointed out that, focusing on the metabolites in the body, found that cupping therapy can significantly reduce the three indicators of venous blood urea nitrogen, uric acid and creatinie, which is have a positive impact on the body’s metabolism, improving the pain threshold and relieving pain.

What to Expect

When Having Cupping treatment?

Cupping sometimes goes along with acupuncture sessions. 

When getting a cupping session, these are the common steps involved:

  1. Your TCM practitioner will take a brief history of your symptoms, especially if you are visiting them for the first time.
  2. Your TCM practitioner will attach cups to your skin.
  3. You will encounter a sucking and pressure feeling as the cups are active.
  4. The TCM practitioner may apply some heat or suction exclusively to attach the cups.
  5. The TCM practitioner may allow some time for you to rest before the next cupping application.
  6. You may feel relaxed, mild skin irritation and pain relief after the treatment.
Where Will The

TCM practitioner Attach the Cups?

Your TCM practitioner may apply the cups to the following areas:

  • Back
  • Abdomen
  • Legs
  • Buttocks

Most commonly, cups are placed on the back unless you receive facial or cosmetic cupping.

How Does

Suctioning Work?

The TCM practitioner heats the cup with fire by lighting alcohol inside the cup the heated cup to the skin. 

Once the heated cup is attached to the skin, the air trapped inside cools down and forms a suction mechanism that sucks the skin. In reaction to this suction and pressure, your skin may temporarily turn red or bruised.

Some cupping TCM practitioners are now using plastic pumps to generate suction as opposed to conventional heating methods.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does cupping hurt?

Generally NO, but everyone has a different pain tolerance and reaction to it. It feels like having a deep tissue massage as it stimulates the deeper muscle layers. Most patients experience a pain-free treatment.   

3. Why does cupping lead to bruising?

As cupping uses suction as its main action, it stretches and pulls out the skin. It enlarges the blood vessels beneath the skin, which leads to mild irritation. Bruising may also occur when capillaries break during treatment. Bruising may worsen as well when the blood circulation to the spot from suction increases.

5. How long does the TCM practitioner leave the cups on my skin?

This depends on your symptoms and system. However, in most cases, he/she may leave the cups on your skin for a max. 10 minutes. Your TCM practitioner may either keep them fixed or detach and move them to another body spot.

2. What conditions can cupping treat?

TCM Practitioners use cupping to treat several health problems but the most common ones are treating back or shoulder pain and leg discomfort. Cupping generally helps ease pain and strain that relates to connective tissue e.g. muscle, ligaments, and bones. As such, it may help treat arthritis, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, tendonitis, sciatica, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, etc. Alternatively, cupping may activate key acupressure spots that relate to skin, digestive, and other health issues.   

4. How long will it take for my cupping spots to vanish?

On average, it takes a week or so (after treatment) for the red spots and bruising to disappear.

6. After a cupping treatment, should I take a shower or a bath?

The best course of action is to avoid cold temperatures for 2 hours following the treatment, as this may slow down the blood circulation. After the treatment, you can resume all of your regular activities.

Looking for cupping therapy in Malaysia? Make an appointment with Thomson TCM now and we are ready to help.

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