Cupping is a lesser known treatment that is also part of East Asian medicine, but one that can provide an especially beneficial experience. Cups can be made from various materials such as glass, bamboo, plastic, or silicone. There are several ways that a practitioner may create suction in the cup. The cup is placed over a specific area on the patient’s body; the vacuum that was created anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward into the cup; this “drawing up” of the skin is believed to open the pores, which stimulates the flow of blood, breaks up obstructions, and allows toxins to be drawn out of the body.
Depending on the condition being treated, several cups may be placed on a patient at the same time. Cups will then be left in place for 5 to 10 minutes. A small amount of herbal oils can also be applied to the patient’s skin just before the cupping procedure which enables the practitioner to move the cups up and down particular acupoints or parts of the body.
Cupping is used primarily to treat certain types of pain, but can also be useful in treating high blood pressure, arthritis, gastrointestinal disorders, and respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and chest congestion. For cellulite treatments, oil is first applied to the skin and then cups are moved up and down the surrounding area. For most patients, cupping is a particularly relaxing and relieving experience.