Frequently Asked Questions About Cupping

Cupping Newport Beach, CA

While relatively recently becoming popular in Western cultures, cupping is not a new practice. In fact, it is an ancient medical technique that has been used for thousands of years. This form of alternative medicine has been used to treat a variety of different disorders and issues, as well as for relaxation and stress relief. Discover the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about cupping.

Common questions about cupping

Though cupping is practiced all over the world, it is probably less well known in Western countries than other alternative medicines like acupuncture. Often practiced in conjunction with therapies like acupuncture and medication, cupping has a variety of uses.

What is cupping?

A therapist performs cupping by placing cups on the patient’s skin that create suction. Traditionally, the suction is created by putting a flammable substance in the cup, lighting it, then extinguishing the flame and turning the cup upside down on the skin. As the warm air in the cup cools, it creates a vacuum effect, pulling the skin and tissue into the cup and increasing blood flow to the area. Cups are left in place for three to five minutes. Some modern therapists use a pump instead of fire to create the suction, but the effect is the same.

The maximum number of cups a therapist uses is usually between five and seven. For a first-time session, three to five cups are more typical, or even just one cup if the patient wants to first see how they will respond to the treatment.  

How many methods are there?

There are two common methods used for cupping: Dry and wet. Dry cupping is just as described above, while wet cupping involves another step. After removing the cup, the therapist makes tiny, shallow incisions on the skin and then replaces the cup for a second round of suction. This draws some blood to the surface. The intent is to promote healing by releasing toxins and harmful substances from the body.

Why use cupping?

Cupping may be used as a complementary therapy to treat a medical condition or to promote relaxation and stress relief. These are some of the most common ailments that cupping has been used to treat:

  • Acne and eczema
  • Blood disorders like hemophilia or anemia  
  • Varicose veins
  • Migraines
  • Allergies and related respiratory issues like asthma
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia

It is also used to achieve deep tissue massage, relieve pain and promote overall well-being. 

Are there side effects?

Cupping is considered a safe treatment, but patients may experience some side effects like mild discomfort, bruising and swelling at the site where the cups were placed. A clean environment and a therapist trained in cupping can reduce the risk of any more serious complications like burns or skin infection. 


Cupping is an increasingly popular therapy in the field of alternative medicine. It can complement traditional and alternative medical treatments and also is used for relieving stress and relaxing the body.

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