This is achieved by the creation of a negative pressure inside the cup via the introduction of a flame from a cotton ball placed inside the upside down cup. When the oxygen in the cup is burned off, the cup is placed directly on the skin, where it is held in place by a surprisingly strong suction. Often, the skin inside the cup visibly rises and is said to "suck out" the body's toxin. Sound uncomfortable? If done correctly, the practice can actually relieve much of the body's discomfort caused by the congestion of blood, energy or mucus, as well as swelling or pain.
More than one cup at a time may be used to cover an area thoroughly. Cups may be left in the same place for several minutes, or removed quickly and placed elsewhere. Cups are sometimes placed over acupuncture needles that have been inserted. Moving cupping may also be performed, by first rubbing the skin with a small amount of oil to allow the cups to slide around. After cupping, patients may remain lying down for several minutes. When cups are used to treat colds and lung infections, patients are advised to wrap up in blankets to stay warm after treatment. Acupuncturists may also prescribe herbal remedies, dietary changes, and other health recommendations.
Cupping uses the same concepts as acupuncture, the Traditional Chinese Medicine concepts.
In clinic, the cupping method is mainly used to treat:
- Arthritic conditions
- Gastro-intestinal conditions such as stomachache, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhoea
- Respiratory diseases such as cough, asthma, common cold and flu
- Acute sprain and strains accompanied by blood congestion
- Tensions, aches and pains