Skip to content
650-366-4299    Schedule Online    Book Consultation   
What is Cupping Therapy?

What is Cupping Therapy?

When your overall health is challenged, cupping, when done by a licensed professional, is an amazing way to balance out the body.

Maybe you remember Michael Phelps during the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics famously photographed after cupping treatment.

But you may be wondering what the heck is cupping therapy?

Cupping therapy is an old therapy used in China and around the world. It works by placing cups on the skin to create suction. This suction increases blood flow to that area which promotes healing.

Similar to Acupuncture treatment this suction facilitates the flow of “qi” in the body.

Benefits of Cupping Therapy

A cupping session can: 

Increase circulation

The suction from the cups increases circulation to the area where the cups are placed. The additional blood flow to that area can help relieve muscle tension and promote cell repair.

Reduce anxiety

When your therapist glides the cups across your skin, (called moving cups), the parasympathetic nervous system engages. and promotes deep relaxation through your whole system. Your parasympathetic nervous system works to calm and restore the body, creating a more balanced you.

Aids Congestion  

The suction from cups breaks up and expels congestion, brings oxygen rich blood and lymph toward your lungs and your other respiratory muscles.  The mere act of the cupping session will balance out the lungs and create a healthier overall system. The mere act of the cupping session will balance out the lungs and create a healthier overall system.

What should I expect during a cupping treatment?

Most cupping treatments occur on the back and shoulders, although cupping can take place on the face and on the abdomen as well. In our office we cup mostly on the back. While lying face down on the treatment table, the practitioner places 2-10 cups on various areas. The cups are left in place for various amounts of time depending on what you are being treated for.

There is also a moving cup method where lotion/oil is applied to the area and then the cups placed.  After the suction is established the practitioner slides the cups up and down the muscle group to create a suction like massage.

This technique is common and can be used for a few minutes before the cups are left in place to do their work.

After a cupping session, you will feel relaxed and the muscle area will have a lot of range of motion. There will be marks where the cups have been placed. Those marks are completely normal. The red round marks as well as any other disturbance will reduce within hours.

Are there any side effects to cupping?

Most sides include red round marks, some purple marks.

These are consistent with the aim of the treatment being breaking up stagnation and increasing circulation. The degree of redness and the not so common tiny water marks indicate a lot of stagnation and the cups are doing their job of releasing all of that. That’s a sign that cupping worked!

Cupping historically is used for most lung issues. We also use cupping for muscle tightness, soreness and pain.

This traditional time-honored treatment remains favored by millions of people worldwide because it’s safe, comfortable and remarkably effective for many health disorders.

What are some conditions can cupping treat?

  • Cough
  • Bronchitis
  • Asthma
  • COPD
  • Rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia.
  • Migraines and headaches
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Muscle tightness

If you have one of these conditions, we recommend that you do not have a cupping treatment.

  • Bleeding disorders (ie hemophilia)
  • Blood clotting problems
  • Skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis
  • Seizures

Cupping Therapy – Is it Right For You?

Our Acupuncturists have been trained and certified in safe and effective cupping techniques.

If you have any questions about a cupping-only session or adding cupping to your acupuncture treatment please call us 650-366-4299 or email us here:

Beth Schiffman
Many Lives Chinese Medicine
Acupuncturist Redwood City
Follow us on Facebook

Back To Top

Free 15 Minute Video Call

Curious about the benefits of acupuncture?