The process of cupping starts by identifying the area to be cupped. Usually for pain relief, the cups are placed around the problematic area or the nearby acupoints. For curing of illnesses, cups would be placed on the back as that is where acupoints directly related to body organs are found.
Next is the choosing of the cups. Glass cups are a popular choice for their versatility with the heat from the flame being able to aid in treatment. Bamboo cups can be coupled with a medicinal concoction while plastic cups are used only once and then the most hygienic.
Once the air in the glass or bamboo cup has been removed, the cup has to be placed upon the body immediately (plastic cups are first placed on the body before the air is drawn out). Cups can be placed on almost any part of the body, as long as there is enough flesh in the area that can be sucked into the cups. Smallest cups are kept for the face and neck, while the largest cups are used for the posterior. Medium sized cups are used for the arms, back and legs. Cups can not be placed on areas where there is little flesh or areas with large scars.
On a person in good health, cupping would not leave any marks once the cup has been removed. However, in a person with ailments, cupping would leave purple circular marks on the body. These marks can be thought of as similar to bruises. The more serious the ailment is, the darker a shade of purple will the mark be. This mark is painless, not permanent and will fade off gradually after a few days.
Cups are usually left on the body for a maximum period of twenty minutes. This is because prolonged period of cupping can result in the formation of water blisters. However if the suction force in the cup is too great, these blisters can form even earlier. In the event that this occurs, do not panic. If the blisters are small, then they can be left alone but ensure that no abrasion occurs. If the blisters are larger, use a needle to prick it and release the fluid inside before applying lotions like aloe vera gel. Also do not be turned off by cupping should such an incident occur, as the ancient Chinese always linked the formation of these blisters to a faster healing process. In recent years, the process of creating blisters through cupping has only been eliminated due to cosmetic reasons.
Overall, cupping is a very comfortable and pain-free process that has garnered lots of popularity. At the end of the session, patients always feel satisfied with the treatment. Some people even claim that cupping is an addictive process which they have to go for periodically. Therefore for those interested in trying out Chinese medicine, this is definitely a recommended mode of treatment.