Body & Soul – Medical Clinics offer a holistic approach to health by combining Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with western medicine in a unique way that speeds the wellness of our patients.

(+86 21) 6345 5101 * 223/ 225

Anji Plaza 14th floor, Rood 05, 760 South Xizang Road

Recent Posts

Downtown -Anji Plaza,

Room 05, 760 South Xizang Road

(+86 21) 6345 5101 * 223/ 225


Minhang -Zhidi Plaza,

211 Cheng Jia Qiao Zhi Road

(+86 21) 6461 6550 * 0/ 219


Today’s Hottest TCM Treatment: Cupping Explained

Today’s Hottest TCM Treatment: Cupping Explained

Everything You Wanted to Know about Cupping

Cupping is experiencing a worldwide surge of popularity. A lot of people first “saw” cupping when Michael Phelps appeared with the trademark red circular marks on his back during the 2016 Olympics. Various celebrities have walked the red carpet with their own cupping marks and talked about how they benefit from cupping therapy.

Its rise coincides with acupuncture and TCM gaining attention in the west. Cupping has long been popular in China. You’ll likely notice many Chinese friends and colleagues getting the treatment as colder weather arrives.

So, what is cupping?

Cupping is a complementary therapy to acupuncture. The Chinese used it as early as 1500 BC, creating a vacuum with animal horns to improve qi flow and remove stagnations and toxins. Other ancient cultures had similar practices.

Today, cups (most commonly made of glass) with negative pressure, typically created with heat, are applied to the skin in affected areas. The cups create a vacuum that sucks the skin in. The glass cups stay on the skin for 10 minutes and help to promote blood flow, stimulate qi and drain excess fluids and toxins. According to TCM, this eliminates cold stagnation. Western science might cite benefits from increased blood flow and nutrition to the muscles.

What conditions will cupping help?

Cupping relieves pain and internal inflammation, especially as related to cold wind stagnation. Cupping is particularly effective for joint and muscle pain. Common examples are neck and back pain associated with sitting in a draft or stiff neck. Cold joint pain in the knee or elbow (known as tennis elbow) and frozen shoulder benefit from cupping. If you have a pain and putting a warm hand or heat on it helps, cupping should do wonders.

You will frequently see cupping used in winter when people suffer from seasonal illnesses. By improving qi flow, cupping can address respiratory ailments like colds, bronchitis and pneumonia. Patients feel quick relief of many symptoms and recuperate faster.

Why does cupping leave marks on the skin?

The round marks are created by the vacuum effect and are a sign of the treatment sucking out the stagnation. Darker markings mean the person had more cold wind stagnation. However, not every suction cup leaves a mark.

Does it hurt?

Patients may feel a pinching sensation and it may seem a little uncomfortable at first. But, cupping should not be painful. Patients typically feel some immediate relief from pain or other symptoms. They may feel energized and “lighter” after the treatment.


Want to see what all the celebrities are talking about? Try cupping for yourself. It’s the perfect prescription to stay healthier through the cold, damp Shanghai winter. Contact Body & Soul to schedule a consultation. Share this article with friends curious about TCM!

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.