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Cupping is a form of traditional Chinese medicine that can be used in conjunction with acupuncture therapy or as a standalone treatment. It’s an effective treatment for respiratory problems, gastrointestinal problems and back pain. It can also be used to alleviate depression and reduce swelling in joints.
Original practitioners used animal horns for cupping when it first started in the fourth century. Today, practitioners use glass or wooden bowls. Bamboo, iron and pottery can also be used, although glass is the most common type used. Glass cups are preferred because a practitioner can see the skin of his patient and evaluate how the treatment is working.

Your practitioner will create a vacuum under the glass cup with a cotton ball that has been soaked in alcohol and lit on fire. He or she will then briefly warm up the inside of the cup, away from your body. Once the cup has been sufficiently warmed, your practitioner will immediately place it on your back which produces a gentle vacuum pressure. Your skin will be pulled up slightly into the inside of the glass and the cups will remain attached to your back. As the air inside of the jar cools, your skin will return to its normal level.

Cupping is used over meridians and major acupuncture points. The vacuum pressure on your skin not only will open your pores but it will help create extra blood flow to those areas. Along with the blood flow you’ll also experience an increase of Qi, the life energy that flows through us all.

The cups will be left on your back for five to ten minutes, depending on the severity of your condition. In addition to the cups, your practitioner may also add medicated oils to the treatment. These oils are placed underneath the cup and allow your practitioner to move the cups around your body to different points.

The method described above is called dry cupping but there are also other forms available. Wet cupping requires that the practitioner prick your skin with a needle before cupping. During the treatment, miniscule amounts of blood may come from the insertion site underneath the cup. The release of this blood removes toxins from your body.

Air cupping achieves the vacuum pressure underneath the cup with a different technique. Instead of using fire to heat the cup, the practitioner will remove air from the cup by using a suction pump.

The only lasting side effects from a cupping treatment are slight bruising and swelling on your skin. This result is from your blood vessels being drawn up to the surface of your skin. Most people report that this treatment is completely painless, including the bruises.
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