Joseph E. Samuels, Doctor of Oriental Medicine

Cupping is an Oriental Medical procedure. This technique was invented by Doctors of Oriental Medicine thousands of years ago and has been used with great success for treating a variety of medical conditions. In order to determine whether cupping would be the appropriate modality of Oriental Medicine to use for your medical condition, you must first be properly diagnosed by a Doctor of Oriental Medicine.

The Procedure: The Physician will take a cup, swab the inside of it with rubbing alcohol, light it on fire and place it on the body. This will then create a vacuum inside the cup and draw the blood to the surface of the skin. This may sound a bit scary at first, but when this procedure is administered properly, you will not get burnt in any way. However, if this traditional approach seems too invasive, don’t worry. Most Doctors of Oriental Medicine have a manually operated cupping set in their clinic which does not require the use of fire. The cups for this procedure come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. They are also made from a variety of different materials. Most cupping sets used in today’s medical clinics are made of glass, bamboo or plastic.

Specific Techniques: Listed is a brief description of the most commonly used procedures found in an Oriental Medical clinic.

  1. Apply a cup to a specific area of the body and leave it in place.
  2. Apply a cup to the body and slide it back and forth
  3. Fill a cup part way with warm water and apply the cup to a specific area of the body and leave it in place.
  4. Place moxa (an herbal mixture that is lit on fire) at a specific point on the body and place a cup over the top of it.
  5. Insert an acupuncture needle to a specific point on the body and place a cup over the top of it.
  6. Insert an acupuncture needle with moxa on it to a specific point on the body and place a cup over the top of it.
  7. Puncture the skin with various types of medical instruments for various types of medical conditions and place a cup over the top of it.
  8. Cook a cup in a pot of water mixed with various herbs, for various medical conditions, remove and place the cup at specific points on the body.

Effects: Cupping “will” cause slight to severe reddening of the skin. This will usually remain for 1 to 2 weeks. There are many factors that will determine the severity of redness and the duration of time. An example of this would be the first few times a patient receives cupping, the redness will always be more prominent because of the Qi and blood stagnation in that area. After a few treatments, the circulation will greatly improve and the redness will be much less. Children and senior citizens will also be more prone to this reaction due to the texture of their skin. The reddening of the skin is expected with this modality of Oriental Medicine and is in no way harmful.

When a patient receives cupping, they will generally feel a nice warm or pulling sensation. You should never experience pain in any way. If you do, tell your physician immediately and they will remove the cups.

Recommendations: According to Oriental Medical procedures, cupping should be applied every day until the medical condition is corrected. Ten (10) sessions constitutes one (1) course of treatment and in severe cases a patient may require a few courses of treatment.

I generally use cupping therapy in my clinic if I know the patient will only require a few treatments to correct their medical condition or I will sometimes combine cupping therapy with other modalities of Oriental Medicine in order to enhance the overall effectiveness of a treatment.

Diet: A few simple notes on diet I always recommend to my patients:

  1. Eat something light exactly 2-3 hours before your cupping session and avoid greasy foods.
  2. Never receive cupping on a full stomach or on an empty stomach.
  3. Increase your water intake throughout the course of treatment.

Conclusion: Cupping is one of the many modalities that make up Oriental Medicine and can bring great benefit to your overall health