Cupping is one of the oldest methods of traditional Chinese medicine. The earliest recorded use of cupping dates to the early fourth century. Glass cups are used at the clinic to allow the acupuncturist to see the skin and evaluate the effects of treatment.

How does cupping work?

In a typical cupping session, glass cups are warmed using a cotton ball or other flammable substance, which is soaked in alcohol, let, then placed inside the cup. Burning a substance inside the cup removes all the oxygen, which creates a vacuum. As the substance burns, the cup is turned upside-down so that the practitioner can place the cup over a specific area. The vacuum created by the lack of oxygen anchors the cup to the skin and pulls it upward on the inside of the glass as the air inside the jar cools.

Drawing up the skin is believed to open up the skin’s pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood and oxygen, breaks up obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.

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Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 2 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Sometimes oil will be applied to the skin just before the procedure, which allows the cups to be moved up and down particular acupuncture points or meridians after they have been applied.

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I would like to learn more about cupping. Where can I find out more information?

Several articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals and acupuncture websites. To learn more, you are encouraged to visit the following sites and read the following articles:

Alternative therapies. A World of Acupuncture website. Available online

American Cancer Society website. Available online

Dharmananda S. Cupping. Institute for Traditional Medicine website. Available at

YCY Better Health Centre. Available online