Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures in 1,550 B.C. It is another ancient modality of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on patient’s skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes as a type of deep-tissue massage, including relieving pain in the muscle, reducing inflammation, stimulating blood flow and Qi, easing stress, achieving relaxation and well-being.

Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (2015) and PLoS One (2012) note that cupping therapy may be effective when people also get other treatments, like acupuncture or medications, for various diseases and conditions, such as acne, herpes zoster, facial paralysis, cervical spondylosis, and pain. Cupping cups are made of glass, bamboo, earthenware, plastic or silicon. 

Cupping using glass, bamboo or earthenware cups:

During a cupping session, your therapist will put a flammable substance, such as cotton ball paper dipped in alcohol, in a glass cup and set it on fire. As the fire goes out, he puts the cup upside down on your skin. As the air inside the cup cools down, it creates a vacuum. This causes your skin to rise and redden as your blood vessels expand. The cup is generally left in place for up to 3-15 minutes.

Cupping using plastic or silicon cups:

A more modern version of cupping uses a pump instead of fire to create the vacuum inside the plastic cup. Sometimes therapists use silicone cups, which they can move from place to place on your skin for a massage-like effect.


Cupping along with acupuncture:

Some people also get “needle cupping,” in which the therapist first inserts acupuncture needles and then puts cups over them.

Cupping is fairly safe with trained health professionals at Rapha Acupuncture in Fullerton. You could have side effects, such as mild discomforts, enlarged pores, bruises or redness in the area where the cups touch your skin, which usually goes away within one to couple days.



A form of heat therapy in which "moxa" made from dried mugwort (Artemesia Vulgaris) is burned on or very near the skin surface. Suppliers usually age the mugwort and grind it up to a fluff; practitioners burn the fluff on top of the acupuncture needles or process it further into a cigar-shaped stick. The intention is to warm areas and meridians points, invigorate the flow of Qi, strengthen blood in the body, and expel certain pathogenic factors such as cold and dampness. Moxa can be used to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth. Here at Rapha Acupuncture in Fullerton, we use smokeless moxa sticks for children to calm down emotions and stimulate circulation. Related health conditions include but are not limited to ADHD and undergrowth.

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