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  • Writer's pictureBrandi Edinger, LMT, CHt

What is cupping therapy?

Updated: Jun 25, 2021

Suction cup therapy is a traditional, time-honored treatment used for thousands of years that remains favored by millions of people worldwide because it’s safe, comfortable and remarkable effective. While some of the techniques have modernized, the original philosophy remains the same.


While massage uses compression, cupping therapy uses suction to lift tissue. Once the suction has occurred, the cups are generally left in place for about ten minutes and then can be gently moved across the skin. The suction in the cups causes the skin and superficial muscle layer to be lightly drawn into the cup. For most clients, this is a particularly relaxing and relieving sensation.

Affecting tissues up to four inches deep from the skin, cupping is one of the best deep-tissue therapies available. Toxins can be released, adhered muscle and connective tissue can be loosened, and veins and arteries can be refreshed within these four inches. Suction cups rapidly releases tight muscles and increases blood and lymph flow to skin and muscles in ways not possible with massage alone.

Here are some specific benefits of cupping therapy:

  • General Health: Cupping therapy promotes removal of toxins from the body, increases flow of blood, lymph, chi, oxygen and nutrients through the body.

  • Pain Relief: Cupping therapy releases stiff joints by activating the secretion of synovial fluid in ways not possible with traditional massage. Cupping promotes vasodilation which relieves ischemia (inadequate oxygen-rich blood supply), the most common cause of pain, by resupplying oxygen and vital nutrients to painful areas.

  • Respiratory Ailments: Cupping therapy over the lungs can clear congestion. Gentle cupping over sinuses breaks up congestion and eases pressure.

  • Circulatory System: Cupping strengthens the circulatory system, purifies blood, and helps normalize blood pressure.

  • Digestive System: Stimulating digestive organs, their peristaltic movement and secretion of digestive fluids, abdominal cupping strengthens digestion and improves nutrient absorption.

  • Body and Facial Contouring: By stimulating collagen production, circulation, and lymphatic drainage and plumping adhered areas, cupping is remarkable for the health and appearance of the skin.

  • Relaxation: The pulling action of cupping sedates the nervous system by engaging the parasympathetic nervous system, thus allowing deep relaxation throughout the entire body. Clients are surprised at how relaxed, warm and light they feel hours, and sometimes even days, afterward.


They aren’t bruises and are seldom tender to the touch. The circular marks are a result of microtrauma to capillaries. These small traumas stimulate the body to repair the damaged cells and make stronger capillaries. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, they are metabolic waste, toxins, and other stagnant material that have been freed from the underlying tissue and brought to the surface where they can more easily be flushed away. If there is an injury, toxicity, or an energetic blockage where the cup is placed, the discoloration is more likely to appear. These marks can last anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks depending on those factors and the clients’ after care.

Not all treatments result in marks.

The speed with which cupping effects change in the tissue is truly amazing, and many people report that the results stay with them longer than other techniques.

Now that you have learned about the many benefits of cupping therapy, you’re probably eager to experience it yourself. Please make sure to see a trained professional with certification in cupping therapy. Here’s to your health!


Brandi Edinger, LMT, CCT, CHt is advanced certified through the International Cupping Therapy Association. You can schedule online with her at

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