Cupping therapy is used to treat symptoms of physical pain and many respiratory disorders like bronchitis, asthma, and general congestion. If you have arthritis or gastrointestinal disorders, you might also benefit from cupping therapy.

It is one of the oldest modalities in Eastern Medicine, specifically used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). In ancient times, hollowed animal horns were used as the cupping devices. In modern times, cups are made out of plastic, rubber, or glass. 

How Does It Work?

Cupping therapy works by creating a negative pressure or vacuum in the cup that effectively draws the skin and muscle into it. Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate circulation, balance and realign the flow of qi/energy, clear blockage, and create a pathway for toxins to be expelled from the body. The negative pressure or vacuum can be created by either a flame or a suction device, depending on what type of cupping you are receiving. 

What Are the Different Types of Cupping?

Dry cupping typically uses glass cups. A vacuum is created using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol, and then placed inside the cup. Burning a substance inside the cup removes all the oxygen, creating the vacuum.

Air cupping uses a suction pump instead of a flame to create the vacuum. The cup is applied to your skin, and a suction pump is attached to the rounded end of the jar to withdraw the air. 

Wet cupping involves puncturing the skin before your treatment. When the cup is applied, and the skin is drawn up, a small amount of blood may flow from the puncture site, which is believed to help remove harmful substances and toxins from the body, as well as promote circulation.

Sliding cupping is when the cups are applied to skin that has a lotion applied on it as well. The lotion provides a slick consistency and allows the cup to move across the fleshy areas of your body, providing a massage-like experience.

Stationary cups are left in place for five to 10 minutes, and several cups can be put in place simultaneously.

What Should You Know?

While cupping is considered relatively safe (especially air cupping, which does not include the risk of burns), it can cause some swelling and bruising on the skin. As the skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand. This may result in small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises are usually painless and disappear within a few days of treatment.

There are several instances where cupping should not be performed. If you have inflamed skin, high fever or convulsions, or bleed easily, you are not a suitable candidate for cupping. Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back. 

If the cups are being moved, they should not cross bony areas, such as the ridges of the spine or the shoulder blades.

Traditional cupping should be performed by a board-certified Oriental Medicine practitioner, like Dr. Captain.

Call us at 941.951.1119 to set up your cupping appointment today!


2650 Bahia Vista St Suite 101
Sarasota, FL 34239
941.951.1129 Fax


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Acupuncture & Nutrition


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