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TCM Treatments Series: Cupping

Cupping is a complementary therapy to acupuncture. Expats not familiar with cupping may wonder about the round, uniform marks they sometimes see on people who’ve received cupping treatment. Cupping is an ancient treatment used in many cultures around the world. Though it’s becoming more common in acupuncture practices in the west, it is still unfamiliar to many people.

How Cupping Works

Cups (most commonly made of glass) with negative pressure (created with heat or pumping) are applied to the skin in key areas. The cups create a vacuum and skin gets sucked up into the cups, which helps promote blood/qi flow and eliminates cold stagnation according to TCM theory. From a western medical perspective, this process increases circulation, getting more blood flow in the area and nutrition to the muscles.

What conditions or problems does TCM cupping treat?

Cupping relieves internal inflammation and pain associated with cold wind stagnation. This treatment is especially good for joint and muscle pain (for example, when you get neck and back pain after being in a draft of cold air). Some other examples include cold pain in the knee or elbow (“tennis elbow”), stiff and painful neck, and illnesses related to cold. If you have a pain and putting a warm hand or heat on it helps, cupping will likely be an effective treatment. It is frequently used in winter when people suffer from seasonal illnesses due to cold wind. By improving qi flow, cupping can assist with respiratory ailments like colds and bronchitis.

Why does it leave marks/bruising? Does it hurt?

The bruising type of effect you see on people when they have received cupping treatment is a sign of the treatment sucking out the cold wind stagnation. Darker markings mean the person had more cold wind stagnation. The patient might feel some minor discomfort with the sensation if they are not used to it, but should not feel pain.

If you’d like to find out if cupping can help you, please contact us about a TCM consultation in Shanghai. Our TCM doctors will complete a comprehensive diagnosis and outline a natural and safe treatment plan.

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Doris Rathgeber
Doris Rathgeber
TCM Doctor & Founder of Body & Soul – Medical Clinics

With more than 20 years of experience as a TCM Doctor and internal medicine specialist, Doris treats a vast array of acute and chronic diseases by expertly combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with Western Medicine. She also hast extensive experience addressing women’s issues as well as infertility problems.