Cupping: A Complimentary Treatment to Acupuncture

October 2021

By Anjalee Patel, LAc, DACM, Dipl. OM, PTA

Cupping is an ancient alternative medicine technique that is used to heal the body from muscular pain, inflammation, circulation issues and tension. It also can be performed to help with a common cold, nasal congestion, disc herniation, shingles, facial paralysis, eczema, acne, migraines, anxiety, arthritis, fibromyalgia, allergies, varicose veins and more.

Types of Cupping

At A Touch of Ginger (ATOG), two types of cupping are performed: stationary cupping and slide cupping.

Stationary cupping is when the practitioner applies multiple glass cups onto the skin using a pneumatic hand pump to create a suction inside the cups. The cups remain suctioned on the skin for 30 seconds to a minute. Then the cups are taken off and moved onto different areas. This is repeated until the practitioner believes enough Qi, or energy, has been moved to promote healing.

Slide cupping is a little different as a glass cup is suctioned to the skin using a pneumatic hand pump but is slid across the skin rather than remaining stationary. First, grapeseed oil is applied to the skin to create less friction. Then the practitioner will slide the suctioned glass cup around on the affected areas. This movement will go on until significant tissue differences are noticed. After the sliding is over, the cup is removed and the oil is wiped off.

Results of Cupping

Both cupping therapies result in creating Qi, blood and tissue movement within the body so it can start to heal properly. Cupping can break up scar tissue or knots, but it also creates a response within the body where cells come to the areas to repair tissue that the cupping resolved. The tissues start to heal and align properly as they lay into place again. Cupping moves Qi, blood and tissue so that the body can heal itself by creating an inflammatory response to clean up and move stuck Qi.

Some cupping sessions might leave dark red or purple marks on the skin. However, they should not be painful. These marks should go away within a few days if the body is taken care of during this healing process. Also, it is important to keep the cupping marks covered by a scarf or jacket when leaving the clinic to ensure no wind or cold enters the cupped areas because pores on the skin have been opened and are susceptible to weather conditions. It is best to stay warm and cozy after a cupping session.

Cupping is not a Standalone Treatment

At ATOG, patients are not seen for cupping treatments alone. Cupping is used as a complimentary medicine to help treat the whole body, in conjunction with acupuncture. Acupuncture treats the root issue, while cupping addresses issues more locally. If the root issue causing the symptoms is not addressed the body will not truly heal. Cupping treatments performed in addition to acupuncture treatments tend to have better results that last longer compared with cupping alone. Together, they are a great team and can accelerate the healing process.

Additionally, cupping is not for everyone. The skilled practitioners at ATOG assess each patient to determine whether cupping will benefit their healing process. If the practitioner believes that cupping could make the patient feel worse, they will not perform it. If cupping is appropriate, it will be performed before the acupuncture treatment. The possibility of a cupping session will be determined based on the patient’s symptoms and pulses that are taken during the intake portion of each visit.

Schedule an Appointment

Please contact ATOG to start or continue your healing journey and to see if cupping is right for you. Schedule an appointment by calling/texting (630) 299-3464 or click here to schedule an appointment online.

Anjalee Patel, LAc, DACM, Dipl. OM, PTA, is a Licensed Acupuncturist, a Doctor of Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, a Diplomate of Oriental Medicine and a Physical Therapist Assistant at ATOG.