Cupping, Tips & Tricks
Cupping is getting popular in Western
medicine. Even Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow is reported to use it
Cupping is part of Traditional Chinese
Medicine (TCM) which aims to remove blockage or stagnation in the flow of Qi
in our body. Cupping can stimulate flow of Qi, blood, and lymph. It is used to
relieve pain in the muscles, and clearing congestion in the chest, which
can occur with colds and flu. Cupping involves creating vacuum suction
in a cup, and then applies that cup to an area of the body. The
traditional cupping uses fire to create the suction on a glass cup. Fire
is introduced in the cup (the heat removes the air from the cup, thus
creating vacuum), and applied it on the skin, the skin gets sucked up
and drawn few millimeters into the cup. The cups are then left on the
body for about 20 minutes. Fire Cupping is called
Fo Guan" in
Chinese, which literally means using fire to pull out the cup. Cupping
is also found in various forms in the Mediterranean, Russia, the
Balkans, modern Greece, and other places.
It is an easy and
inexpensive technique that can be added to your practice, you can get a
hold of it quickly. Here are some tips and tricks, assuming that you
already has some knowledge on cupping.
The information contained
on this page are not meant to take the place of diagnosis and treatment
by a qualified medical practitioner. We disclaim any liability arising
directly or indirectly from the use or misuse of the techniques
What you need:
- Glass cups, you can buy
this from specialised TCM supply store (more expensive) or
from local Chinese medicine shop. An expensive one costs
about $6 each, while the cheaper one is about $2. Check the lips of the cup
for any chips or crack.
- Alcohol, or methylated
spirit (from local supermarket)
- Cotton ball
- A pair of metal tweezers or
Because you will be handling
fire, cups, and also your client at the same time, place the cups next to your
clients on the massage table. Tips: use a small basket to hold,
transport, and store the cups.
Prepare a cotton ball on a pair of
tweezers or forceps or other metal stick, and wet it with
alcohol. Then ignites the soaked cotton ball. Be aware that the
greater the fire, the stronger the suction will be.
Now here's the trick on how to
apply fire to the cup:
Hold the cup in an inverted
position (as in the picture on the left), and insert the fire
straight into the base of the cup, hold for about 1 second,
remove the fire instantly. Then place the cup immediately against the skin. Do not need
to press the cup on the skin. Do not need to turn or swirl or
turn the cup or fire. This is the simplest and effective way to
create a firm suction.
Care must be taken: do not to
place the fire near or on the edge/ lip of cup, it can create
burn on the skin. This is the danger when swirling the fire
around the cup or turning the cup, it can heat up the lip of the
The suction anchors the cup to the
body, and the area of skin is drawn up a few millimeters into
the cup. The cups are then left on the body for about 15-20
minutes. Cover the clients with blanket or towel for warmth,
especially during cold weather.
Clients will feel warm, pulling and
stretching of the skin and muscles, but not pain. If pain is
reported, immediately remove the cups. Some clients are very
sensitive and may not tolerate high suction, so start with a
To remove the cup, with a thumb
press the skin next to the lip or edge of the cup to let air
into the cup, this will release the cup easily.
There is usually a period of
tenderness and may create bruises. Usually dark bruises indicate
stagnation of Qi. Bruises can persist for few days up to a week.
Advise the clients not to have a shower (especially with cold
water) for at least 2 hours.
Cups should be washed properly
to prevent contaminations. Recommended are soaked in diluted sodium
hypochlorite for few hours and washed with soap water, and sun
dried for storage.
Where to apply? Usually along the
meridian lines or acupressure points. Please consult TCM books
and charts or attend a workshop for more information. The book
by Ilkay Chirali provides a comprehensive reference to cupping
and treatment for common ailments.
contained on this page are not meant to take the place of
diagnosis and treatment by a qualified medical practitioner. We
disclaim any liability arising directly or indirectly from the
use or misuse of the techniques presented here.
For more information,
this is the most complete reference to Cupping.
lkay Zihni Chirali,
This unique reference explores all aspects of cupping-- an ancient,
predominantly Eastern technique in which heated cups are applied to the
body for beneficial healing effects. Guidelines are applied to the
treatment of common medical conditions, with answers to readers'
questions concerning safety and outcome. Cupping therapy treatments
described for common disorders ranging from abdominal pain, stroke, and
asthma, diarrhea, and back pain. Each method is well illustrated, with
differentiations between cupping practice on adults and children.
Ilkay Chirali is a Member of British Acupuncture Council and Member
of Register of Chinese Herbal Medicine, London, UK. See