An Ancient Practice with Healing Benefits

Cupping therapy got a big boost in the public eye during the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics thanks to gold medal swimmer, Michael Phelps. Those strange red dots on his back and arms caused quite the stir. Phelps used cupping as a form of recovery. But you don’t have to be a world-class athlete to enjoy the benefits of cupping therapy with massage. 


What is Cupping?

Cupping might be trendy now, but it isn’t a new practice. It actually dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how ancient Egyptians used the therapy in 1550 B.C.


So what does cupping therapy involve? During a session, the therapist will place special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. These cups can be made of glass, bamboo, earthenware (ceramic) or silicone. 


The Different Methods of Cupping

There are two methods of cupping: dry and wet. During dry cupping, suction can be created one of two ways. The traditional method involves placing a flammable substance (like alcohol, herbs or paper) inside the cup and setting it on fire. As the fire goes out, they put the cup upside down on your skin. As the air cools, it creates a vacuum, causing your skin to rise and redden as your blood vessels expand. The cup is generally left in place for up to three minutes. The more modern version of cupping uses a pump instead of fire to create the vacuum inside. When silicone cups are used, the therapist can move them from place to place on your skin for a massage-like effect.


Wet cupping starts much the same as dry cupping. However, after mild suction is created and the cups left in place for about three minutes, the therapist removes them and then makes light cuts on your skin with a scalpel. Then they do a second suction to draw out a small quantity of blood. 


After a treatment, you may get an antibiotic ointment and a bandage to prevent infection. Your skin should also look normal again within 10 days. 


Are There Side Effects to Cupping?

Cupping is fairly safe as long as you go to a trained professional. Other than the red spots or bruises on your skin, you might also notice some mild discomfort in the spots you received treatment. When the traditional method of creating a vacuum seal is used, you might get a burn. You might also get a skin infection. Some people may also experience fatigue, nausea or headaches. It is important to note that if the equipment is not properly sterilized between patients, you might risk contracting a bloodborne disease such as hepatitis B or C.  


What is Cupping Used to Treat and What are the Benefits?

The vacuum seal brings better circulation to the areas treated. Cupping can help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and general well-being. It is sort of like getting a deep tissue massage. Studies have shown that when combined with other treatments, like acupuncture, it may help with various diseases and conditions, including but not limited to:

  • Acne
  • Cervical Spondylosis
  • Rheumatic disease such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Migraines
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Varicose veins


More studies need to be done on the effects of cupping with certain conditions. As with any therapy, it’s a good idea to consult your doctor first. However, people who should not get cupping include:

  • Those who are pregnant
  • Those with bleeding disorders such as hemophilia
  • Those with blood clotting issues, such as DVT (deep vein thrombosis) or have a history of strokes
  • Skin conditions including eczema and psoriasis
  • Those with seizures (epilepsy)


Cupping + Massage

Here at the US Wellness Collective, we believe in holistic wellness that helps you feel good inside and out! Our professional massage therapists put the extra mile into each session, customizing your treatment to your unique needs! We offer cupping with massage for the ultimate in healing and relaxation. Contact us today to book your cupping massage appointment!