Cupping is one of the oldest of the Chinese medical therapies, dating back to the fourth century. Originally, cups were fashioned out of animal horns or bamboo, but today the cups generally in use are glass, ceramic or plastic.
Cupping involves creating a vacuum inside the cup through lack of oxygen, thereby allowing the cup to adhere to the skin and gently pull the skin upwards. As the skin is drawn up, the pores open and the flow of blood is stimulated and obstructions are broken up. In this process, qi is realigned and flows more smoothly, and toxins are naturally drawn from the body.
Cupping is used to treat arthritis, gastrointestinal and respiratory conditions, and some types of pain.