Wednesday, February 6, 2013

What's That? Wednesday: The Chinese Practice of Cupping

Lighting the glass cup on fire.
Recently I had my first "cupping" experience.  It's not as scandalous as it sounds!  Cupping is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and sometimes is done in conjunction with acupuncture, like Jamie's experience.

Cupping is when glass or bamboo cups are heated on the inside and put on the target area or acupuncture point.  The heat creates suction and pulls the skin.  I heard someone explain that it feels like a vacuum cleaner hose pulling on your skin.  I would agree with that, but Jamie would not (at least when it comes to his feet).  

Getting ready to re-light the glass cup.
The belief is cupping pulls out the toxins that have built up in that part of the body and improves circulation.  Depending on where the cups are placed, and for how long, they can leave a red bruise.  Shortly after we moved to China, I remember seeing a young woman on an escalator with several red, round bruises on her back.  I was shocked and immediately thought they must be a result of domestic violence, but after I calmed down I realized that the bruises were there on purpose.

My friend's cupping.

My feet being cupped.  And, thanks to the
massage therapist for waiting for my
friend to take my picture!

Now that I know the bruises are not from anything sinister, I will be voluntarily having cupping done too!


  1. So, did it feel good during the process or after?? Do you notice a difference in your circulation?? (i.e. your feet aren't as cold) So interesting!! :)

  2. I think it feels good, like a massage. But, Jamie thinks it feels terrible and it made him jump to the ceiling. I don't know about improved circulation, but it harm anything!

  3. I could use this on my shoulders right now! Lots of stress and tension needing to release!