Cupping is a method of treating disease that is caused by local
congestion. A partial vacuum is created in a cupping jar, usually
by means of heat, which is then applied directly to the skin.
The underlying tissue is drawn up into the jar forming an area
of blood stasis. This appears to bruise the area, or at least
turn it a bright red. The amount of dark red or even purple blood
drawn to the surface indicates the degree of stagnation. Dark
blood is a sign of stagnation, which in many cases in modern terms
is the amount of toxins in the blood.
In ancient times, animal horns and bamboo jars were used, principally
to drain pustulating sores.
Later this method was used to treat consumptive and rheumatic
diseases. Today jars are made mostly out of glass to standard
sizes and specifications, although bamboo jars are still occasionally
Cupping is generally indicated in the treatment of Arthritic
pain, abdominal pain, stomach ache, indigestion, headache, hypertension,
common cold, cough, low back pain, painful menstruation, insect
and poisonous snake bite.
Cupping should NOT be used when there is high fever, for convulsions
or cramps, allergic skin conditions, or ulcerated sores.
Cupping should only be done on the soft muscle tissue and should
NOT be done where the muscle layer is thin, is not level because
of bony projections or angles, on the face, or on the abdomen
or lower back of pregnant women.
Attach a cotton ball to a stick or forceps and dip into 90% alcohol.
Avoid alcohol of lesser distillation as it won't burn hot enough
to create a sufficient vacuum.
Ignite the the alcohol-soaked cotton ball and thrust into the
jar. This will evacuate some of the air in the jar creating a
vacuum within it.
Quickly remove the cotton ball, as you don't want to heat the
jar, and very quickly thrust the jar onto the skin. Depending
on the strength of the vacuum created, the muscle tissue will
be sucked up into the jar. With practice this becomes a fairly
Leave the jar in place for 15 - 20 minutes and then
remove. Depending on the degree of toxicity in the muscle tissue
treatment will result in either only
a slight reddening of the skin for slight toxicity, or a rather
nasty looking bruise of high toxicity. To make a better seal and
to allow moving the cups around in a massage technique, a lubricant
such as Olive Oil, or KY Jelly may be used.
There are other methods of creating the vacuum, such as the 'twinkling'
method. In this method, a small alcohol soaked piece of paper
is thrown into the jar and the jar applied to the skin. This method
should be used while the patient is sitting up to avoid burning
Cupping may be combined with Acupuncture. First insert the needle
in the desired point and then place the jar over the needle. Make
sure you use a jar large enough to accommodate the needle.
Another method is the use of a pump apparatus. The vacuum is
created simply by pumping the air out from a plastic jar. Kits
are available at most suppliers. This method is preferred by some
as there is no danger of burning the client.
While cupping is an extremely effective treatment for colds,
flu, for a wide variety of muscle strain injuries and for drawing
out toxins, it does tend to leave large areas of bruising and
depending on the severity of the injury can be uncomfortable for
These bruises are not dangerous and disappear in a few days.
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