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Removing Toxins with Cupping

Sarah Gandey, Registered Acupuncturist

April 21, 2017

Cupping is a beneficial modality in Traditional Chinese Medicine that is used by most acupuncturists. It is used to detoxify and promote blood circulation. It heals, relaxes muscles, reduces inflammation and stimulates acupuncture points. It most commonly treats inflammation, various types of pain and tension, injuries, fibromyalgia, asthma, cough, allergies, menstrual problems, and digestion problems.

Fire Cupping

Fire cupping is one type of cupping where a flame is inserted quickly in and out of a glass cup, and is then placed on the body (the fire doesn’t touch or come close to the body). The heat from the fire eliminates oxygen in the cup and therefore creates a suction/vacuum effect. This suction pulls the skin and tissue layers into the cup. As the tissues relax, more is pulled into the cup and reaches down to the deeper tissue levels. Cupping draws the old non-circulating stagnant blood and toxins up to the skin’s surface and away from the injury. This then restores healthy, free circulation in the affected area, creating space for oxygen and nutrients, which allows for faster injury recovery.

During the treatment, the pores open, the muscles relax, blood flow improves, toxins are removed, Qi is balanced, and blockages are broken up. Similar to acupuncture, cups can be placed along the meridians, typically on the back, but also occasionally on the legs, stomach, and arms.

Depending on the condition, the cups may be left on the skin for up to 10 minutes.

While cupping may leave circular marks or bruises, it is not painful and is known to be very relaxing. These marks normally disappear in 3-7 days. The color and pattern of the marks depend on the level of stagnation in the area. Stagnation is referred to as stuck, non-circulating blood. The marks can range from a bright red to dark purple (indicating severe stagnation). If there is no stagnation present, there will be only a pink marking, which disappears in a few minutes to a couple of hours. If no coloration appears this is a sign that there is a deficiency of Qi and blood. This translates to a lack of nutrients and oxygenation to the muscle/tissue area. This could be due to a poor diet, stress, or a blockage somewhere else in the body.

People who live/work/play or are exposed to toxic environments, may consistently have post-cupping marks. Areas of old or chronic injury may require multiple cupping treatments to remove all stagnation. One may find in follow-up treatments that the marks will be progressively lighter as toxins are removed and circulation is restored.

Cupping is not appropriate for everyone. Therefore, it is essential to see a practitioner licensed in traditional Chinese medicine. The treatment may be used in conjunction with acupuncture or as a stand-alone. To determine if cupping is right for you, schedule a consultation. Call (587) 285 4411, or go online at to book an appointment today.

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