Updated: Nov 13, 2020
I recently had the opportunity to be interviewed by Karen Grace of KENS5 News in San Antonio about cupping. I am so grateful to have gotten the chance to put some Chinese medicine out there into the world.
Cupping is thousands of years old, and not just done in China. Many cultures around the world do some form of cupping. It is folk medicine, just as gua sha is (another post on that later!) In cupping, we use glass cups, silicone cups, or plastic cups on various parts of the body. A vacuum needs to be created to suck the tissue up inside the cup. For plastic cups, we use a pump to pull the air out, and in glass cupping, we use a small flame to create a vacuum. Don't worry, the flame is never allowed too near the patient. Some glass cups are tiny and specially contoured for the face. These use rubber bulbs to create the vacuum and have milder suction. They are often used in facial rejuvenation or cosmetic acupuncture.
There are different types of cupping but they mostly often fall into the categories of stationary and moving/sliding. In stationary cupping, cups are allowed to stay in place for 5-10 minutes. In sliding cupping, the skin is oiled before cups are applied. Cups are then moved along the area in a gliding movement. Having the tissue pulled away from the underlying muscle allows blood and body fluids to flow into the muscles more easily, bringing oxygen to rejuvenate the tissues. This also stimulates the fascia that wraps the entire inside of our bodies. When I perform cosmetic acupuncture ("acupuncture facelift"), relaxing sliding cupping is done on the face to rejuvenate the tissues before the herbal masque is applied.
Contrary to popular belief, cupping is not only used for sore muscles, although that's what we use it for most often. Cupping can be used to help resolve a cough, or even for gastrointestinal issues. As far as how it feels, most people enjoy the sensation a great deal and find it extraordinarily relaxing.
It is very important to choose a well-trained practitioner for cupping. As harmless as cupping seems, there are areas of the body that should not be cupped. A licensed acupuncturist is nationally board-certified by the NCCAOM in cupping, sterilization procedures, who should not have it at all or at certain times, and how to adjust cupping techniques and strengths according to the patient.
If you are nervous about having acupuncture, I totally understand. I get a little nervous having it myself sometimes. Cupping may be a really great way for me to help you feel better and adjust to being treated with Chinese medicine. Please do not hesitate to contact me with your questions and concerns. If you'd like to book an appointment, please click the "Book Appointment" button above and I'll see you soon!