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Cupping Therapy.

cupping therapy in HERTFORDSHIRE

Did you know that we don't always need to use needles in an acupuncture treatment?  This page will talk about cupping therapy and why I use it in your acupuncture treatment.

What is cupping therapy?

Did you watch the Olympics and see a swimmer and wondered what those red circles on their back are? Or Gwyneth Paltry on the red carpet? This is cupping therapy.


Below you will see a picture of Dwayne The Rock Johnson sporting his own cupping marks (I think he is an awesome guy).


Cupping therapy is the extraction of toxic substances (detoxification) from the body by creating negative pressure in the cup.  These swimmers (or even a-list celebrities) will be using cupping as a means of moving and releasing tension and pain.  

The history of cupping therapy

The earliest recorded references to cupping use are found in the Ebers Papyrus, written by Ancient Egyptians in Hieroglyphics, about 1550 B.C.


Ge Hong (281–341 A.D.), Taoist alchemist and herbalist from China is also known to have written on cupping.


The earliest discovered record of cupping in China was in the Wu Shi Er Bing Fang (202 BC–220 AD). Early written records in China (28 A.D.) strongly support the use of cupping and acupuncture. It stated that “more than half of the illnesses will be cured by acupuncture and cupping.”


Zhao Xue-min, (1644 to 1912) wrote Bencao Gangmu Shiyi (Supplements to Compendium of Materia Medica), describing details of the history and origin of different kinds of cupping, cup shapes, their functions and clinical uses in the treatment of diseases.

Cupping therapy: when will your acupuncturist use it?

Your acupuncturist will use cupping therapy in the following instances:


  • to help move and clear colds, pneumonia or bronchitis. The cupping therapy will help break up areas of congestion and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out

  • cupping therapy will be used for musculoskeletal pain for example back, neck or shoulder pain by stimulating the flow of blood, creating movement and releasing muscles and fascia

Cupping therapy: how does it work?

Cupping is most commonly used to treat musculoskeletal problems when there is a pain in the body.


A partial vacuum is created in a glass or plastic cup that is applied directly to the skin. The tissue underlying the cup is pulled up, breaking small blood vessels in the area and resulting in local bruising.

There are three different actions acupuncturists can use when applying cupping therapy.


Sliding cupping therapy

This is suitable for large areas where the muscles are thick (e.g. back, thighs, buttocks) - the cup is placed over lubricated skin and rubbed backwards and forwards over the skin.


Flash cupping therapy

Flash cupping is used to expel a cold or flu at an early stage and is also effective for breaking up congealed Phlegm in the Lung. One or more cups are placed and removed across the upper back in quick succession, producing a ‘popping’ sounds


Static cupping therapy

Static cupping therapy is when the cups are left in place for between 5 & 20 minutes. This will be when you have the red marks left by the cupping. The sha will be indicative and diagnostic of what is the underlying root cause. For more information on sha and what it means you can see here.

Cupping therapy: safety considerations

As with all your treatments with a qualified and regulated acupuncturist we are aware of when these therapies should not be used.


Cupping therapy should not be used in the following instances:


  • The lower back or abdomen during pregnancy

  • The severely anaemic or weak

  • Those with very thin skin – e.g. the very elderly, or patients on steroids

  • People with hypertension

  • Those susceptible to profuse bleeding – such as haemophiliacs, or those taking anticoagulant medication such as warfarin

  • The site of a recent trauma

  • Broken or ulcerated skin

  • Enlarged blood vessels, varicose veins, thromboses, aneurysm or arteriosclerosis

  • Moles

  • Inflamed or perforated organs

  • It is also important to note that visible cupping marks should be kept covered for the first 24 hours, as this open skin could be open to cold, wind or damp.

Cupping therapy in Hertfordshire

As a mobile acupuncturist, in Hertfordshire, I bring acupuncture and cupping therapy to you.  

If you are interested to see whether cupping therapy would help your pain then please feel free to email me.  I offer 20-minute discovery calls where we can talk about your main complaint.  There is no obligation to book and you can ask any questions you might have.

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