Cupping is performed by placing glass or plastic cups on the skin with the air pulled out to create a vacuum. The vacuum anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the cup. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, balances and realigns the flow of energy, breaks up obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.
Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Some practitioners will also apply small amounts of medicated oils or herbal oils to the skin just before the cupping procedure, which lets them move the cups up and down particular acupoints or meridians after they have been applied.
Cupping is used primarily to treat respiratory conditions such as bronchitis, asthma, and congestion; arthritis; gastrointestinal disorders; and certain types of pain. Some practitioners also use cupping to treat depression and reduce swelling.