What are the benefits of cupping?

What is cupping?

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, “Cupping is a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practice that involves placing cups on the skin to create suction.” It is a practice that goes back over 2,000 years.

There are many variations of cupping.

Dry Cupping

Dry cupping is when a cup is heated before it gets placed on the skin which creates suction. Suction can also be created using a pump.

Wet Cupping

Wet cupping starts off with dry cupping. Then, cuts are made to the skin and a cup is placed back over, sucking out the toxic blood.

Massage Cupping

Massage cupping is when oil is applied to the skin and cups are placed and moved around.

Needle Cupping

Needle cupping is when acupuncture needles are placed in the skin and cups are placed on top of those areas.

Fire Cupping

Fire cupping involves using fire inside the cup in order to create suction to the skin.

Water Cupping

Water cupping involves placing cups filled with water on the skin.

Magnet Cupping

Magnet cupping involves placing cups with magnets attached to it on the skin.

Sources: “Types of Cupping” and “Cupping Techniques”

How does it work?

I stopped by Gainesville Holistic Healthcare in Gainesville, Florida, to get a better understanding of cupping. According to Traci Pettigrew, a physician at Gainesville Holistic Healthcare,  there is nothing like cupping in western medicine. It has a wide variety of applications and can be combined with other medicine.

When cupping is performed, cups get placed over a problem area and air gets pumped. This sucks the skin into the cup, pulling waste products out of the tissues and increasing flow and circulation.

Cupping started to become popular when the media showcased the purple marks on athletes at the Olympics. “It looks a little alarming,” Pettigrew said but cupping is not painful. “People love cups because it relaxes them.” These purple marks are not sensitive to the touch and usually go away in two to seven days. The skin type determines the darkness of the marks.


Where is cupping done on the body?

Cupping is usually done on the patient’s back but Pettigrew mentioned it could also be performed on the trapezius muscle, shoulders and even the abdominal.

Why should someone get cupping done?

There are many benefits to cupping. Pettigrew mentioned:

  • An increase in blood flow
  • An increase of circulation in tissues
  • A decrease in inflammation
  • Cellulite reduction
  • Pain reduction
  • Reduction of spasms associated with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Relaxation

Who are the people who get cupping done?

Pettigrew has a variety of people come in for cupping treatments. She gets people who are athletes to office workers. About half of the people come in because of stress and the other half come in because of pain.

When do people usually get cupping done?

Pettigrew’s clients usually come in once a week.

My Cupping Experience

I made my cupping appointment at the Floating Lotus Spa in Gainesville, Florida, with Joy Lynch. Lynch specializes in lymphatic Chinese massage cupping, Indian head massage, reiki healing, aromatherapy facials and reflexology for the hands.

At the Floating Lotus Spa, guests lie down on a BioMat, a heated mat that delivers infrared rays and negative ions to the body. Then, your appointment begins.

First, Lynch examined my body for “problem areas”, the areas packed with tension. To do this, she would apply pressure to those areas. Unlike what Traci Pettigrew, Gainesville Holistic Healthcare, said, this did hurt. It was not a bad hurt, though. It is comparable to the pain felt during a deep tissue massage.

After she found my “problem areas”– mostly my lower back and neck, she started to work with the cups. Unlike Pettigrew, Joy Lynch had a variety of cups — materials and sizes. She used rubber cups, glass cups, plastic cups and silicone cups on my body. She even incorporated deep tissue massage elements.

Lynch started by placing a few glass cups on a section of my body and leaving it there for a few minutes. Then, she would use the silicone and rubber cups to “move” the tension around — making it eventually leave my body. Lynch used the plastic cups on certain sections of my body. These plastic cups had magnets in them and acupuncture points. When these were placed on my body, it produced a tingly sensation caused by the acupuncture points hitting pressure points.

I came in with the idea that cupping was done on just your back. I was surprised to find cups placed on my legs, back, neck, shoulders, palms of the hand and the backs of my feet.

Final Thoughts

After my cupping treatment, my “problem areas” were reduced. The treatment did help reduce my stress and pain. The process as a whole was not painful. The pains I felt were when some pressure got applied to my tensions. Those pains got reduced after treatment. Faint purple marks did appear on my neck and back but it was not frightening to look at nor was it painful. These marks disappeared after four days. I would recommend getting cupping done if you have a lot of tension from stress. It helps reduce it and gives you the same loose feeling you get after a massage.

What are your thoughts on cupping? Will you try out a treatment? 


Here are prices here in Gainesville, Florida:

Gainesville Holistic Healthcare

30 minutes, $40

The Floating Lotus Spa

60 minutes, $75





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