Fire Cupping

What is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping is an ancient Chinese method of causing local congestion.  A partial vacuum is created in cups placed on the skin either by means of heat or suction.  This draws up the underlying tissues.  When the cup is left in place on the skin for a few minutes, blood stasis is formed and localized healing takes place.

Cupping therapy has been further developed as a means to open the 'Meridians' of the body. Meridians are the conduits in the body through which energy flows to every part of the body and through every organ and tissue. There are five meridians on the back that, when opened, allow invigorating energy to travel the whole length of the body.  It has been found that cupping is probably the best way of opening those meridians.

Cupping is great for pain; particularly pain related to lack of blood flow and stagnation that is a cold and damp in nature.  Cupping can be done to help breathing issues like asthma or digestion issues. Cupping is unique in that it is mostly a reducing therapy or one that takes away. Whereas acupuncture puts something into the body (although energetically it can pull out), cupping literally sucks pathogens out of the body.

Cupping has also been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries, activate the skin, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins.


Cupping is the best deep tissue massage available. Cupping, the technique, is very useful and very safe.


A glass cup has a lit torch held inside it for a few seconds.  This is just enough to warm the air, which creates a vacuum effect.  The cup is then quickly plopped down on the skin.  A small area of skin is sucked up into the cup and that’s what holds it to the skin surface.  The hotter the air, the stronger the vacuum and suction feeling. If it feels too tight at this point, either the skin wasn’t oiled enough or the vacuum is just a tad too strong.  The cup can be easily removed and reapplied if it’s really uncomfortable.

Sometimes large cups are applied and then slide back and forth on the body surface.  This feels like a massage, as the cup sucks up a bit of the skin and by moving the cup, it feel like a deep muscle push done with the heel of the hand.  Smaller cups can also be applied over areas where chi is blocked or where you want to increase circulation.

Cups are left in place for up to a half hour approximately.  To remove them, you just break the seal by pressing down at the edge of them with a finger.  The marks left behind are a combination of how strong the vacuum of the cups was and what impurities/toxins were being removed.  Most often the circles left behind are reddish-brown but they can also be yellowish or even a bit more blue like a traditional bruise.  These fade anywhere from a day to over a week or two depending on how long the cups were on you and what your own skin healing is like.

To Remove the Yang

Unlike moxibustion that increases the Yang, cupping removes the Yang.  Like moxibustion, cupping can be performed along with acupuncture.  Both needles and cupping tend to remove the Yang.

First, oil is applied to the skin, usually on the back, to help maintain the suction and to allow the cups to be slid around on the back snugly.  The practitioner heats the air inside the cup or uses mechanical suction.  He puts the cup on specific acupuncture meridians or at other spots on the body.  Sometimes, incisions are made to draw out blood.

If acupuncture needles are used in conjunction with the cups, the needle may be applied at the acupuncture point, and the suction cup may be placed over it to enhance the effect.

Nowadays, modern machine suction pumps are commonly used instead of fire to create the suction effect. Generally, there is no discomfort since the suction isn't very strong, but it does draw the blood to the surface leaving a mark like a bruise mark or hickey.  The mark generally disappears within a few days.

What our Patients are Saying

  • Karle Cooper
    “I LOVE Dr. Soto!!!  She truly cares about her patients, making you feel like a member of her extended family, not just a name on a chart.  I enjoy my sessions so much.  I've had the gua sha and cupping.  But my primary reason for going was acupuncture.  I feel so much better after my treatments.  Truly one of the best things I have done for myself.”
    Karle Cooper
  • Marty Johnson
    “I saw Dr Soto for neck and shoulder pain.  She used needles and cupping and it was wonderful.  I had a second treatment and my pain has been gone for over two months.   She also has helped with pain in my knee using acupuncture.   Acupuncture has worked much better than massage (which I used to get on a regular basis) and lasts much longer.  I can highly recommend Dr Soto.  She and her staff are professional, friendly and caring.”
    Marty Johnson
  • Thankful Client
    “I saw Dr. Soto for neck and shoulder pain. She used needles and cupping and it was wonderful. I had a second treatment and my pain has been gone for over two months. She also has helped with pain in my knee using acupuncture. Acupuncture has worked much better than massage (which I used to get on a regular basis) and lasts much longer. I can highly recommend Dr. Soto. She and her staff are professional, friendly and caring.
    Thankful Client
  • Tiffany Pietraszek
    I brought my daughter in for cupping last week, Dr. SOTO and staff was amazing. My daughter felt a huge difference in the level of back pain she was experiencing. She actually went in for her 2nd visit today and will continue weekly sessions. :) thank you!
    Tiffany Pietraszek
  • Marty Johnson
    As a RN, I was skeptical about acupuncture even though our daughter was a big proponent of it as an alternative way to heal the body. After seeing the positive results Dr. Soto had with my husband, I decided to go to Blue Root Acupuncture because of pain in my left shoulder and neck. She did acupuncture and cupping on my first visit. The pain was immediately gone and lasted almost a week. After my second treatment, the pain was gone from my neck and shoulder and I have much better movement of my neck. I also saw Dr. Soto for knee pain later on. She did acupuncture and prescribed two herbal teas to reduce edema in my lower extremities. I will continue to see her for stress related aches and pains. I have found acupuncture to be better than massage. Whenever I had a massage and drove home in traffic the massage was almost undone. Driving in traffic doesn’t seem to undo acupuncture treatment. I have recommended Dr. Soto to friends and family as someone who genuinely cares about her patients and their journey to healing.
    Marty Johnson
  • Maureen Cleveland
    I went to Dr. Soto, when I was first put on oxygen, 24/7 Beside treating me with acupuncture, herbal medicine and cupping -- and may I say she was the best one I found here in this area, she told me right off, any form of dairy is not good for your condition. She explained why. I stopped dairy, and soon no more bad mornings. She suggested I think positively, that was a little harder but she made me understand the mind is a powerful thing to have in your favor. Then she also suggested, a better diet that was going to help my medical condition. That was even harder than all the rest but it made a difference in the way I felt immediately. One month ago, I was taken off oxygen during the day. I called her my angel then, I still feel she was sent to me as an angel. She can help you, her herbs and her teaching along with her healing hands in acupuncture. Not only a new person in how your body feels, but a new thinking about how to live a more healthy life. Dr. Soto is very very good. She is more then a Dr.--She cares about you! Acupuncture works. I have had great results, both with a frozen shoulder and help in my breathing, due to COPD. I also would say, if you like having a caring person, who really puts her all into helping you get well, do go to Blue Root Acupuncture Clinic. Dr. Angela Soto, I Just wanted you to know how very special you are to me. You are a great and caring Acupuncturist- who has helped me so much - so compassionate and caring in your work. Dr. Soto, Angela, you are the best, and I feel I have a great friend.
    Maureen Cleveland