Fire cupping

From ArticleWorld


The practice of fire cupping goes back to Ancient China where animal horns or bamboo cups were placed on the skin after heating them to create a vacuum. The cups then sucked in the skin and a superficial layer of muscle. It was originally used to drain pustules and in later years as a way of dispelling cold in the channels running throughout the body and removing the stagnation. It was usually applied as part of acupuncture treatment and was considered beneficial in the treatment of ‘wind-cold’ headaches.

Nowadays, cupping is also practiced in Vietnam, the Balkans and Greece where it is found in folk remedies usually in the treatment of the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis.

Cupping procedure

Glass cups are now used and there are several ways of creating the vacuum necessary for the treatment. The traditional way is that of fire and this involves holding the inverted cup over the flame of a candle or by swabbing the bottom of the glass with alcohol and lighting it. In both cases, the cup must then be applied to the skin quickly before the pressure is allowed to equalize.

A recent development is the use of a hand-held pump, the use of which avoids the danger of burning the patient if the glass is too hot.

The cup may then be kept in place for about ten minutes or moved around the area carefully without allowing the cup to become unstuck. By pressing the skin slightly at the side of the cup, air enters and the pressure equalizes, releasing the cup.

The area covered by the cups reddens as blood flow is congested and after the treatment, the skin usually bruises.