What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping is a powerful detoxifying, pain relieving and energy building modality that people all over the world use for health maintenance. There are many conditions that respond positively to cupping:

  • muscle and joint pain, stiffness, and arthritis
  • repetitive strains
  • inflammation
  • congestion
  • toxicity
  • chronic fatigue
  • fever
  • stress
  • depression and anxiety
  • digestive problems
  • issues associated with aging

The technique:

Cupping is a modern bodywork adaptation of the ancient art of cupping therapy used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Its use of negative pressure rather than tissue compression is superior for bodywork.

marion-cupping4A cup is positioned on the area to be treated and, depending on the type of cup being used, a vacuum is created within the cup to draw the skin and underlying tissue into the cup. The vacuum produced creates a suction effect that releases rigid soft tissue, loosens adhesions and lifts connective tissue, increases blood and lymphatic circulation systemically and to the local area, promotes fresh oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood & lymph, relaxes muscle tissue and support, brings blood flow to stagnant skin and muscles, draws pathogenic factors and toxins out of the body, and releases a myriad of pain causing factors. The suction level can range from light to heavy, and the movements performed by the therapist, which mimic the rolling action of deep tissue massage without the discomfort, can be stimulating or sedating.

When done properly for your constitution and current physiology and/or condition, cupping can make you feel really great. The pulling action engages the parasympathetic nervous system, allowing a deep relaxation to move through the entire body. It is not unusual to fall asleep when receiving this treatment. You will be surprised at how relaxed, warm and light you’ll feel – hours… sometimes even days afterwards.


What physical effects can I expect from suction cup therapy?

The after effects of Cupping are most intense at the beginning of receiving treatments, and lessen dramatically as your system becomes accustomed to the treatments as they accumulate.

Why do skin marks or discolorations sometimes appear after suction cup therapy?

marion-cupping5Often, when a condition exists within deeper structures where sufficient pathological factors and stagnant fluids (toxins, blood and lymph) are dredged up during treatment, discoloration will appear on the skin. This is the therapeutically desired effect – the more this is visible, the greater the level of stagnation and toxicity. The discoloration will fade over a few days. As treatments accumulate and the release of stagnation and buildup has been disbursed and drained – (usually by the 3rd or 4th treatment) no discoloration is likely to occur at all. Even though each time the cupping may have been focused on the same area for the same duration and with the same amount of negative pressure. This is the result of having internal unwanted toxins systematically purged.

One of the common and unfortunate misconceptions concerning cupping is the misinterpretation of the discoloration. “Bruising” is caused by impact trauma with breakage of capillaries and reactionary rush of fluids to the damaged area from the tissue compression/injury. There is no compression in properly employed suction cup therapy. Although it is quite common during Stationary Cupping (left static for 5 – 20 minutes) to achieve dramatic marks or discolorations, the less aggressive action of moving the cups, minimizes the intensity and duration of the discolorations.

What happens beneath the surface during cupping therapy?

Since the techniques use negative pressure, rather than tissue compression, superior bodywork is easily accomplished. The suction of the cups rapidly facilitates rigid soft tissue release by stretching it up from underlying structures, thus loosening areas of adhesion or restriction, activating muscle spindle reflexes that relax contractile tissue and retraining the myofacial structures. Further, it stimulates the nervous system reflex to the cerebral cortex, contributing to an increased rate of recovery from pain and disease.

The effects are remarkable on hypertonicity and aching muscles and activate the secretion of synovial fluids, which release joint stiffness in ways not possible using the pressure of traditional massage. It concurrently creates localized expansion of tissue, producing profound vasodilation reaction – drawing blood flow to areas of ischemic pain, raising skin temperature, promoting metabolism within the skin tissue for better functioning of sweat and sebaceous glands, flushing capillary beds, draining stagnant blood, toxins and lymph, and re-supplying vital nutrients.

What are the other benefits of cupping therapy?

Cupping is also used in beauty therapy. This particular application is based around promoting hormone production, encouraging blood and the secretion of digestive fluids and increased peristaltic movements in the bowels and internal organs, removing harmful toxins that speed up the aging process and other degenerative conditions. Another effective application of the cupping technique is in the treatment of cellulite. A very light suction provides drainage, while heavier application can be used to stimulate circulation and loosen adhesion or “dimpling.”


Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. As a non-medical practitioner, if you have or suspect that you have a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider. Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.


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