When I discuss cupping, many of my patients tell me that their Italian or Jewish grandmothers would cup them if they had
a cold or cough. Other patients look at me with skepticism as they imagine some form of
ancient torture. Cupping has been used globally for hundreds of years to treat various
conditions. I use cupping commonly for treating back pain, shoulder pain, frozen shoulder, acute
sprains, upper respiratory infections, colds, cough, and poisonous insect bites.
Cupping is the application of suction through a glass or plastic cup to the body. Depending on
the condition, the cups may stay in place for 10-15 minutes or they will be moved over an area of
the body in a technique known as moving or sliding cups. In my practice I use traditional glass
cups for treatment. Cupping draws Qi, blood, and fluid to the surface where they can be
dispersed with massage, Tui Na, and topical linaments to relieve pain caused by injury or
When necessary, I will also use the tradition of bleeding an area of acute injury
when blood has stagnated and fluid has collected creating pain. Though this too can raise an
eyebrow of skepticism, bleeding in conjunction with cupping can speed up the recovery of an
acute injury and can offer immediate relief from pain.