Posted July 8, 2013 by in Skin and Body Care

Cupping Therapy… controversial but standing the test of time

Cupping is the practice of using heat (fire) or mechanical devices to create a vacuum (by hand or electrical machine) between the skin and the cupping device (bell like in shape). It is believed that this suction created mobilizes the blood flow and assists lymphatic drainage and in so doing promotes healing.
Originating as far back as far as 3000B.C. (Ebers Papyrus) in Egypt, 1000 B.C. in China (archaeological evidence) and 400 B.C. in Greece where Hippocrates was believed to have used cupping for internal disease.

This practice is still used today in Chinese medicine; my first exposure was some 20 years back when I trained as a beauty therapist, back then was named ‘Vacusage’.

There are mainly two types of cupping known, ‘dry cupping’ and/or ‘wet cupping’….

- Massage cupping (wet) – being the more therapeutic of the cupping techniques, with more of a relaxation technique
The cup is kept active with smooth movements on the body.

- Traditional cupping (dry) – being more medicinal and curative in nature
The cups are left in one spot for up to 15 minutes and incorporating the practice of controlled bleeding.

The cups themselves can be produced from a variety of materials such as Bamboo, Glass, Earthenware and these days….. a more modern rubber and silicone option.

The cups were traditionally heated with fire and a flammable liquid resulting in the process of the hot air cooling and expelling itself resulting in the creation of a vacuum, alternatively by use of a machine and/or pump. Modern cups have a more user friendly ‘squeeze and ease onto the skin’ application.

The claimed benefits are…

- Improved Lymph Drainage , thus removal of waste products in the blood stream
- Improved Circulation
- Reduction in fluid retention
- Detoxifying
- Relief of muscle tension and headaches
- Aids digestion and relief from constipation (when used on the abdomen)

Cupping Therapy was the rage a few years back and became very much talked about in the media when Gwyneth Paltrow and Victoria Beckham arrived at social events with cupping bruises visible on their backs. More recently Jennifer Aniston joined the ranks of the celebrity ‘cupping club’.

I do believe that any massage benefits the body, and I personally would steer clear of the traditional option. Ultimately I believe you should listen to your body and if you find that you benefit from the treatments then why not?

In South Africa I recently came across a new cupping system called ‘Bella Baci’ which has silicone cups. These are easy enough to use at home just squeeze and apply.
There are both home and salon treatments available for more info visit