cupping moxa moxibustion

What is Cupping & Moxibustion


Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which suction is applied locally to the skin. Practitioners believe that the suction mobilises blood flow to promote healing in a range of conditions. Cupping therapy (also known as Hijama therapy) dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures.  


Moxibustion is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that involves the burning of mugwort, a small, spongy herb, to facilitate healing. Moxibustion has been used throughout Asia for thousands of years. The purpose of moxibustion, as with most forms of traditional Chinese medicine, is to strengthen the blood, stimulate the flow of qi, and maintain general health.  



The earliest record of cupping is in the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, which describes how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1550 BC. Archaeologists have found evidence in China of cupping dating back to 1000 BC. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates used cupping around 400 BC. The therapy in various forms has spread into medicine throughout Asian and European civilisations, and more recently has been encouraged by celebrity endorsement from athletes and actors. 


Some references place the practice of Moxibustion as far back as the 16th century BCE, during the Shang Dynasty. This is the same period credited with the development of a lunar calendar, convex mirror, and basic calculation. There are, however, no official records of moxibustion, although it is believed to have occurred during this period because, by the end of this dynasty, there are records of it being used.   By the time a written discussion of standardized moxibustion application had begun, it had already spread to other nations. Unofficial records track the practice to Japanese texts dating from around 400 BCE.  Recent discoveries have found texts mentioning the practice in Japan dated from 168 BCE

How does it work?


Chinese Cupping Therapy is often used in conjunction with more commonly known forms of traditional Chinese medicine treatments and methods such as acupuncture and acupressure. The basic idea behind cupping therapy is to place glass cups or silicone cups on the patient’s skin to create a vacuum, so the blood is drawn to the surface of the skin in specific parts of the body that need healing. Traditional Chinese practitioners discuss different areas, or meridians, of the body that are used to transfer energy. They believe each body has twelve different meridians and treatment can be applied to each meridian for a myriad of reasons. 


In traditional Chinese medicine, moxibustion is used on people who have a cold or stagnant condition. The burning of moxa is believed to expel cold and warm the meridians, which leads to smoother flow of blood and qi. In Western medicine, moxibustion has successfully been used to turn breech babies into a normal head-down position prior to childbirth. 


  • Blood Disorders – Anemia and hemophilia. 
  • Rheumatic diseases – Arthritis and Fibromyalgia. 
  • In women – Gynecological problems such as irregular menstruation,. Cramps are first treated using acupuncture and then cupping. 
  • Skin conditions – Eczema, urticaria or hives and acne.  
  • Wrinkles and Facial Rejuvenation 
  • High blood pressure
  • Mental problems – Anxiety, depression, migraines, and insomnia
  • Varicose veins
  • Detox
  • Improving the Immune System 
  • Respiratory illnessesCongestion, common cold, asthma, allergies, and bronchitis. Cupping therapy has shown satisfactory results when treating children.
  • Pain – Using cupping therapy the healer can relieve headaches and back pain. Pain in the shoulder blades or loins can be treated by targeting specific points.
  • Toothache – A toothache can be cured when cupping is used along with acupuncture and massage therapy.  
  • Gastrointestinal disorders – Early morning diarrhea, dysentery, severe or frequent gastritis. Children suffering from indigestion can also benefit from cupping. 
  • Can assist in the treatment of cancer by rebalancing the energy in a bodily system that has been blocked by tumors 
  • Facial paralysis – Particular points on the face are first treated with acupuncture or needling, and the cupping treatment is used. 
  • Injuries to the soft tissues – Plum blossom acupuncture is first used on the areas above and below the swelling and pain points followed by cupping. 
  • Sore throat 
  • Acute conjunctivitis
  • Frozen shoulder – This condition can also be treated using acupuncture and cupping over the pierced areas.
  • Fever and headaches caused by an infection.  
  • Cervical spondylosis, a condition of the neck joints
  • Scaring
  • Headaches  

  • Common cold and respiratory disorders, such as hay fever and seasonal allergies
  • Immune system support
  • Pregnancy support, including turning breech baby during pregnancy
  • Gastrointestinal disease, such as peptic ulcers, irritable bowel disease, crohn’s disease, chronic diarrhea, and ulcerative colitis
  • Pain management due to osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, meniscal tears, or any injuries that are not easily healing
  • Blood clotting disorders and other cardiovascular dysfunctions
  • Inflammatory disorders and neuralgia that may disrupt normal circulatory flow

What does treatment involve?


Through suction, the skin is drawn into the cup by creating a vacuum in the cup placed on the skin over the targeted area. The vacuum can be created either by the heating and subsequent cooling of the air in the cup, or via a mechanical pump. The cup is usually left in place for somewhere between five and fifteen minutes. It is believed by some to help treat pain, deep scar tissues in the muscles and connective tissue, muscle knots, and swelling 


Moxibustion is a technique used in traditional Chinese medicine. 'Moxa' comes in three distinct forms, loose in original herb type form (called wool or punk), shaped and formed into a cigar shaped stick or a preformed compacted ready to use cone (which normally has a sticky pad on the end to stick to the skin)  The cone is placed on an acupuncture point and burned. The cones are removed before burning the skin. The moxa cigars are hand held and the therapist holds them in place over specific acupressure points. Specialist holders can be used so moxa can be placed directly onto an acupuncture needle, allowing the warmth to penetrate deep into tissue.The purpose is to stimulate and strengthen the blood and the life energy, or qi , of the body.  


  • Is cupping painful?
  •  Cupping is not painful and most patients are likely to experience only a slight pinching sensation.
  • Why does cupping therapy cause bruising?
  • The circular bruising seen on the backs of cupping patients are the outcome of the suction created by the cups bringing blood to the surface of the skin. These are normal and are rarely painful. 
  • Are these the circular marks left by the cups the same I have seen on athletes?
  • Yes, many athletes use alternative or complimentary therapy. Made famous by the US swimmer Michael Phelps at the Rio 2016 Olympic games.
  • How long are cups applied for in cupping therapy?
  • Depending on your body and condition, cups may be placed on your skin for up to ten minutes. They may either stay in place for that time, or the practitioner will remove them and place them on another location of your body.
  • What are the Side effects of cupping?
  • During cupping therapy the patient should expect a slight pulling, stretching and/or warm sensation when the cups are applied to the skin. Various pressures of the cups are applied depending on your body type and type of pain or condition you are experiencing. If the cups are slid up and down your skin you will feel a slight stretch, almost the same as a massage. Often the cups will leave reddening of the skin where the cups were applied, depending on the strength of the suction. These marks will fade sooner if they are lighter in color, and may take a bit longer if they are darker in color. Typically the reddening shows up stronger on the first treatment. 

  • Does it hurt?
  • No, there is no pain involved apart from the heat of the moxa. This is removed before burning the skin
  • Is there a risk of burning?
  • As with anything that involves fire and burning there is a small risk. The therapist will not leave the patient unattended whilst moxibustion treatment is taking place
  • What about scarring?
  • There maybe a small indentation where the moxa has burnt, this normally goes after an hour or two
  • What if I dont like the smoke or smell?
  • Smokeless versions are available, the smell can be a bit of a like it hate it smell, some varieties we use have less smell than others.