Healthy Living, Treatment

Is Cupping For You?

October 5, 2016

Cupping is one of the treatments my 8 year old daughter will routinely let me do on her.  In the past, she would be anxious if anyone saw the cupping marks.  Now, thanks to some high profile athletes and celebrities showing off their cupping marks, cupping has become more in the know and peaking the interest of more and more people.  Super athletes like Olympian swimmer Michael Phelps, Mets player Daisuke Matsuzaka and USA gymnast Alexander Naddour have all been very public about their fondness of this ancient treatment.  Alexander Naddour told USA Today: [It’s] the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy…[cupping] is better than any money I’ve spent on anything else.”1,   Other celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston have been doing cupping for years now and have not been afraid to show up on red carpets with red round cupping marks.

So why should you try cupping? Not only did Hippocrates, the father of medicine, recommended cupping in his guide to clinical treatment, but cupping has been used by thousands of people for thousands of years for several different kinds of ailments in Europe, Egypt, Russia, and of course China.  My patients have benefitted from cupping when it comes to asthma, ADD, and muscle pains.  Here are some health ailments that cupping is very beneficial for:

  • Respiratory issues, like asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu, coughs.  Cupping helps detox and open the alveoli in the lungs which helps eases breathing
  • Muscle tightness – The cupping helps circulate blood through the tight tissues and helps relieve pain caused by stiff and sore muscles
  • Detoxification – cupping helps bring toxins to the surface and instigates the healing process.
  • Weight loss – cupping helps stimulate the lymphatic system which can help stimulate the metabolism and increase circulation.  See a study from The Journal of Blood and Lymph
  • Headaches and migraines – cupping helps relieve tension which can help ease tension headaches and migraines

How does cupping feel is another typical question I get.  Cupping feels like a deep tissue massage, but depending on the type of cupping, the cups and pressure can stay in one place or can move up and down the treated area.  It can be very relaxing, especially for muscle pain because of the immediate release of tight muscles.  Patients who are having difficulty breathing usually feel no chest tightness during cupping, giving them immediate relief. I like to finish cupping with a light massage and some myofascial release.

It is not recommended for people who bleed easily, have edema, or have skin ulcers.  Also, women who are pregnant should wait until after their pregnancy to use cupping.  I also warn patients that cupping marks can tan, so avoid exposing your cupping marks to the sun.  The marks will eventually go away but it may take a lot longer.  I recommend cupping be done once a week until the desired result is achieved . 


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  • Reply Brooke October 5, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Who do I go to have have cupping done? Would like to try for my Achilles Tendonitis I’ve had for about 8 months.

    • Reply Simone Moran October 19, 2016 at 10:42 pm

      I know Acupuncturists perform cupping. Maybe a chiropractor? Ask around in your area. I don’t think it will help with the tendonitis that much. Try moxibustion!

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