What Is Cupping Therapy?


Recently, I had my first cupping experience at Wild Earth Acupuncture- and it was amazing. I’ve always been curious about trying cupping as I love learning about different healing modalities and ways to keep the body healthy. I tend to hold a lot of stress and tension in my upper body, specifically my shoulders and upper back. Right after the treatment, I felt an immediate release in my muscles (and the results lasted for weeks!) I was truly amazed. Afterwards I sat down with Lenore, owner of Wild Earth Acupuncture and a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist, and she gave me all the details on cupping.

Lenore was kind enough to write and share her expertise on the topic! Hear from her below as she explains cupping therapy, it’s benefits and other important things to know about it.

Cupping therapy is an amazing modality that is often associated with Chinese medicine and acupuncture, but this ancient healing craft has roots in many cultures around the world. This modality consists of special cups being placed onto the skin and held there with suction. The suction can be created by fire, or air. It is often used to help people heal from injuries, reduce inflammation and pain, and increase blood flow.


Various types of cups can be used such as bamboo, horn, clay, or bone, but the most common ones used are glass and silicon. There are also various techniques that can be utilized depending upon your chief complaint. One of the most common techniques of cupping is called fire cupping, in which the therapist or Acupuncturist will light an alcohol swab or soaked cotton ball, place the flame quickly into the cup to create a suction and place the cup upon the skin. The heat nor flame never come into contact with the body. The cups can be left stationary, to focus upon a specific acupuncture point, muscle or meridian, or they can glide across the skin for more myofascial release and circulatory effect.  The silicon cups are similar yet they do not use flame but are used with small trigger that removes air from inside the cups when placed onto the skin.

These cups leave distinct marks on the body, that often fade within a few days to a week. These cupping marks are different than bruises, as the cupping does not injure cells but helps express and release old injuries and un-metabolized blood beneath the surface, which causes things such as pain or restricted range of motion. The marks vary from person to person, and are not always a clear depiction of how “well” the cups worked. The areas of the body that are being cupped are experiencing increase blood flow which can lead to decreased muscle tension, reduction of inflammation and increased circulation.

This modality is not only super effective but it also feels amazing and people walk away after the first treatment feeling better, more relaxed and in less pain. Make sure to check in with your acupuncturist or massage therapist to see if cupping is right for you!

Benefits of cupping:

  • Increases healing times

  • Myofascial release

  • Improves circulation and range of motion

  • Increases blood, lymph and Qi flow

  • Improves respiratory health

  • Improves gastrointestinal health

  • Helpful in treating physical manifestation of stress

Caution and contraindications:

  • If you are taking blood thinners

  • Open wounds

  • If you have sensitive skin

This article was written by Lenore Cangeloso LAc. MSAOm., a Portland-based Acupuncturist and Herbalist. Check out her website www.wildearthacupuncture.com to learn more!