Acupuncture, Immunity, Mental Wellbeing, Pain

Fire Cupping Therapy – 5 Frequently asked questions about treatment?

By Fiona Franklin (Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine Practitioner)

What to expect from cupping therapy treatment”

When you come in for an acupuncture treatment it is likely that your Chinese Medicine practitioner will use other traditional techniques that may assist in your treatment. One of the most popular techniques utilised by acupuncturist’s is fire cupping. The following blog will help answer some commonly asked questions and what to expect from an acupuncture treatment that includes fire cupping.

Is cupping a new therapy?

Cupping therapy might be on trend right now, as professional athletes and health conscious celebrities are often seen in the media sporting the circular shaped marks. But this therapy certainly isn’t new. Cupping dates back to ancient Chinese, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern cultures and one of the oldest medical text books in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes the Egyptians utilising cupping therapy as early as 1,500 B.C (Dinallo, 2019).

Will cupping help reduce my pain?

Research suggests that cupping is thought to mainly act by increasing local blood circulation (hyperaemia) which can aid in relieving painful muscle tension (Teut et al., 2012). This increased flow of blood to the tissue is shown to support in the remodeling of connective tissues, suggesting that cupping may influence the internal physiology and functioning of a muscle (Mehta & Dhapte, 2015). Thus, cupping may assist in the treatment of musculoskeletal pain and tension.

What can I expect from my first treatment?

Fire cupping is a simple procedure, by which the practitioner safely lights a cotton ball on fire and quickly inserts this flame into a certified glass cup to reduce oxygen and create a vacuum effect. The practitioner then quickly removes the flame and gently attaches the cup to the desired area for treatment, often on the large and tense muscles on the back and shoulders. The cups can then be left static for 5-15 minutes or slowly moved along tight muscles using oil and technique called “slide cupping”.

What will the cupping feel like?

The cups will often feel tight at first (not painful) as the cup suctions onto the skin. But this will dissipate over time. Clients often describe slide cupping as a similar feeling to a deep tissue massage. A skilled therapist can easily adjust the level of suction or pressure on the cup to suit your individual preferences. But cupping should never be painful.

Are the cups hot on the skin?

Although a flame is utilised in the technique of fire cupping, the cups themselves are only slightly warmed by the quick process of deoxygenating the cup. Clients often report the feeling of a nice warmth, but when preformed correctly it should never feel hot.

Will cupping leave a mark?

Every patient is different, but cupping will often leave a circular shaped mark which can range in colour from pink, red to purple. These marks will dissipate over time often lasting from 2 hours to several days. It is important to note that these marks are not bruises. A bruise is caused by impact trauma by which capillaries are broken in an injured area. The discolouration in the skin after cupping is said to be caused by the vacuum effect of the cup which pulls poor circulating blood and fluids from the tissue, into the surface of the skin (Cao et al., 2010).

Every client will respond differently to cupping session. If you have any questions before a cupping treatment, please do not hesitate to ask and we can talk you through the process.

Cupping therapy is included in an acupuncture session with our Acupuncturist Fiona. If you are interested in this service please let us know and book in for a consultation today!


Cao, H., Han, M., Li, X., Dong, S., Shang, Y., Wang, Q., Xu, S., & Liu, J. (2010). Clinical research evidence of cupping therapy in China: a systematic literature review. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 10, 70.

Dinallo, D. (2019). A reflection on cupping therapy and historical medical dominance. International Journal of Complementary & Alternative Medicine, 12(2), 66-68. Doi: 10.15406/ijcam.2019.12.00450

Teut, M., Kaiser, S., Ortiz, M., Roll, S., Binting, S., Willich, S. N., & Brinkhaus, B. (2012). Pulsatile dry cupping in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee – a randomized controlled exploratory trial. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 12, 184.

Mehta, P., & Dhapte, V. (2015). Cupping therapy: A prudent remedy for a plethora of medical ailments. Journal of traditional and complementary medicine, 5(3), 127–134.

Meet Acupuncturist - Fiona Franklin

Fiona utilises traditional acupuncture which is painless and gentle, and incorporates her acupuncture alongside various modalities including Cupping Therapy, Chinese Massage (Tui Na), Chinese Herbal Medicine, Moxibustion as well as lifestyle and dietary advice. Fiona’s holistic treatment approach focuses on supporting the body, mind and spirit to bring the individual back into balance and allow for the best outcome for the client.  

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