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What is Cupping?

cupping man

cupping man

Cupping girl

Cupping girl

Cupping back

Cupping back

One of the earliest documentations of cupping can be found in the work titled A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies, which was written by a Taoist herbalist by the name of Ge Hong and which dates all the way back to 300 AD.


Traditional Chinese medicine brings to mind acupuncture and the use of natural herbs as healing remedies. Cupping is a lesser-known treatment that is also part of Oriental medicine, one that can provide an especially pleasant experience.


There are a variety of materials used for the cups, but glass and plastic are the most common you’ll see in the US. The plastic cups are a rubbery sort of suction cup. Cups can be used in massage or in a non-massage form of treatment.  Cupping is much like the inverse of massage - rather than applying pressure to muscles, it uses gentle pressure to pull them upward. For most patients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation. Once suctioned, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes while the patient relaxes.


During cupping massage or sliding cupping, your practitioner moves the cups in lateral and vertical movements to help disperse toxins, help move lactic acid, or to get a sluggish lymphatic system back up and running after a cold or other illness. It’s also become known for its ability to help reduce the appearance of cellulite. 


During the non-massage treatment variety, your practitioner will place the cups on the effected area. The cups create a vacuum and the resulting suction draws the skin up. This causes blood to rush to the site, thereby increasing circulation. Once the cups are removed you’ll have rings of varying colors marking where the cups were. The darker rings mark areas with a higher concentration of toxins.



One treatment consists of 6 sessions, usually less than 1 week apart.  Sessions can be as frequent as every 3 days.


The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite. For weight loss and cellulite treatments, oil is first applied to the skin, and then the cups are moved up and down the surrounding area.  


Cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. It is thought to affect tissues up to four inches deep from the external skin. Toxins can be released, blockages can be cleared, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches of affected materials. Even hands, wrists, legs, and ankles can be ‘cupped,' thus applying the healing to specific organs that correlate with these points.


As for a natural alternative for cellulite treatment – it works! Now, nothing really makes cellulite go away but there can definitely be a decrease in the chunky cheesy appearance around your knees, the sides of your thighs and on the back of your legs where your bottom meets your legs. You’ll need more than one treatment to see a visible reduction in the appearance of cellulite though and I would expect to have to repeat it maybe one a year or so for continued results.

What to expect after your sessions


Make sure you drink plenty of water to flush out the toxins after the session.  Cupping does leave noticeable marks similar to a bruise or hickey that is sometimes referred to as “cup kisses”.  Although they can look alarming, they are not painful and will disappear on their own within 3-7 days.  Make sure you keep your skin warm after a session so that the tissues cool naturally.

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