Tel: 07812 702 382

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture

Acupressure & Massage

Updated: 26th August 2020

The Art of Cupping

The Art of Cupping

Cupping is an extraordinary technique that has been used for thousands of years in Chinese Medicine and throughout the world. It is still used widely among professionals and laypeople across many cultures today.

The healing process can be shortened by months using this method that manually removes the blockage in ways that massage, acupuncture and other forms of treatment cannot.

What is Cupping? 

Cupping is a suction technique designed to pull toxin build-up and muscle spasm from the body's deeper tissue to the surface of the skin.

The cells of the body use oxygen and give off carbon dioxide; when the movement through an area is blocked, cell waste or carbon dioxide gets blocked. This is called toxin build-up.

Physical pain and stiffness implies a blockage of movement through a particular area. When toxins or cell waste stagnate into the muscles or joints, it can be very difficult to get rid of this waste, causing further blockage and discomfort.

By utilising cupping techniques we are able, by vacuum or suction, to pull the blockage out of the deeper tissue and move it to the skin's surface. Once on the surface, it is much easier for the body to eliminate toxins through the superficial blood supply or capillary system.

In only ten minutes cupping, not only can we pull toxin build-up out of specific areas, but we can also pull the fresh blood into those areas, which will vitalise and restore proper flow.

Why Choose Cupping?

Cupping is used mainly for pain and stiffness around joints and large areas of muscle. When there is limited mobility eg a neck that can only turn a few degrees or a shoulder that can't raise the arm, muscles fail to work individually and lock together. If this is left untreated then they will eventually stick together into an adhesion. Deep tissue massage and/or acupuncture can help in these cases a great deal. However, cupping can have a quicker and more thorough effect.

Cupping is diagnostic as well as therapeutic and can tell us three basic things.

1) Cupping will tell us the kind of problem with which we are dealing, as problems related to toxic build-up or muscle spam will cause the skin under the cup to colour, whereas issues dealing with nerve or bone will not colour at all.

2) Cupping tells us exactly where the problem is, as we usually cup an area slightly larger than the painful area, in order to ensure that the pain is entirely covered. Some skin under the cups will colour and some won't, though the same amount of suction has been used with all cups. Even in the skin under a single cup, a part may colour while the rest does not.

3) Cupping will tell us the severity of the problem. Light or moderate blockage will cause the skin under a cup to colour pink or red, and take a day or two for the colour to go away. Severe stagnation can cause the skin to colour a deep scarlet, purple or even black; it may take seven to ten days for the dark colour to disperse. All of this information is helpful not only in providing treatment but in making an accurate diagnosis.


Cupping is also a useful tool for helping the body detoxify: by placing the cups on specific points that link to lymph nodes (the lymphatic system is the sewage system in the body) this draws toxins to the surface where they are drawn into the capillaries. These more superficial areas remove the toxins via the liver, kidneys and bladder.

Is Cupping Safe?

Cupping is a safe and effective treatment when applied correctly: cups are applied in a particular order to strengthen and realign posture. However cupping should be avoided over sensitive or damaged skin, torn or bruised soft tissue and only used with caution with frail patients.

Is Cupping Painful?

The cupping sensation can be a bit painful for the first sixty seconds, the time which most toxins are removed. It is helpful for the patient to try to relax into the process of being cupped and to acknowledge and tolerate the pain. The cups are on for around ten minutes. 

Patients typically experience immediate relief in symptomatic areas of the body upon removal of the cups, making the initial discomfort well worth the treatment.


The effects of cupping are not fully scientifically understood but we can safely conclude that it increases the blood flow through the cupped area: this breaks up deposits in the soft tissue ( ie knots or scar tissue in the muscles) and speeds up the healing process. Used correctly in combination with acupuncture and or massage it is a powerful and effective tool.

"Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go everything that isn’t you etc"