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Natural Awakenings Northwest Florida

Cupping is Making a Comeback

Jan 31, 2013 08:54AM ● By Dr. Sheryl Roe

Dr. Sheryl Roe

Once widespread throughout Europe and Asia, the practice of cupping is now limited mainly to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). A practitioner might use cupping as one way to aid weight loss or other health issues such as depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. In cupping, a practitioner places a glass container with a partial vacuum inside on a patient's skin in order to produce suction on the underlying tissue.

In TCM, it is believed that qi, the universal life energy energy, moves through the body underneath the surface of the skin. When qi becomes or stopped up or stagnated, it causes pain and other health problems. One of the methods for releasing qi is by cupping, which brings improvement.

Cupping has roots in ancient medical traditions across Europe and Asia, In TCM, practitioners thousands of years ago used heated cattle horns to draw pus and blood from boils. Cupping even appears in ancient Egyptian manuscripts. Hippocrates and Galen, pioneers of Western medicine, recommended cupping for many different types of illness. Europeans continued to use cupping and its related practice of bloodletting until the rise of modern medicine in the 20th century, and folk medical practitioners worldwide still use the practice.

In TCM, the liver governs the smooth flow of qi, while the spleen is responsible for drawing qi from food and distributing it to the rest of the body. Those having trouble losing weight, or just feel heavy, stiff and tired. It could mean that either of these systems isn't functioning properly and the qi has begun to stagnate, giving rise to a condition called “dampness”. Cupping can help remove deep-level damp stagnation and allow qi to circulate freely once more.

After briefly inserting a flame into a special glass cup in order to remove some of the oxygen, a practitioner will place the mouth of the cup on the skin, usually on the back. Some cups have a rubber bulb attached to them to remove air by suction. The cup, which now contains a vacuum, draws in skin and muscle tissue, often raising a red or black welt. Essentially, cupping pulls an area of stagnation to the surface of the back or whatever body part the TCM practitioner may be using, triggering a reaction in the body's qi that gets things moving again

In the cupping treatment, a practitioner might use a weak vacuum for a brief period of time in order to get the qi moving. The goal is to stimulate blood and qi and remove any stagnation that might be causing weight gain or other symptoms, not to punish you or jolt the system. Stronger methods include moving the cups around once they are attached to the skin.

Dr. Roe is an acupuncture physician practicing at 7552 Navarre Pkwy, Ste. 44, in Navarre, and 151 Mary Esther Blvd., Ste. 307A, in Mary Esther. Contact her at 850-225-3460 or

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