Massage Cupping™ – History


The use of suction cups seems to have originated with the use of animal horns hollowed out to drain poison from snake bites or pustules on the skin. The use of horns evolved into the use of bamboo “cups”, which were eventually replaced by glass. Applications evolved with the refinement of the suction cup itself and with the different cultures that used suction cups as a health care technique.


“In China”

Animal horns were dug out and a small hole allowed air to be sucked in. The resulting vacuum draws toxins to the surface. Suction cups began to be used in surgery to divert blood flow from the open site. The true origin of the suction cups remains unclear.

The use of suction cups has grown to become a separate therapy to treat a variety of conditions. Traditional Chinese medicine observes that suction cups dissipate stagnation of blood and Chi, as well as external pathogenic factors that invade a weakened constitution. An weakened constitution is often the result of a weakening of the “Jung Chi” or original energy. The first written documents found in China date back to the 28th century BC. A traditional Chinese proverb states, “Acupuncture and suction cups… more than half of all ailments are cured”.

“In Egypt”

The Papyrus Ebers of 1550, an ancient medical book from British Columbia, describes the application of suction cups to combat fever, pain, dizziness, menstrual disorders, appetite, constipation and to accelerate the “healing crisis” of diseases. From Egypt, suction cups were introduced in Greece, and their use eventually spread to many European countries and the Americas.

“Recent history”

In the 19th century: European and American doctors still widely used suction cups in the late 1800s. Until that time, suction cups were generally “wet” with scarification. The technique then became “dry”, without blooding, but no less effective. Research papers on the subject were published in Europe during the 19th century and concern dry suction cups only. In the 1950s, a collaborative effort was made between China and Russia and confirmed the clinical applications of vacuum cup therapy. This led to their official use in Chinese hospitals.

“Finding its place”

The decline into obscurity during the 20th century paradoxically stimulated the invention of machines using suction cups or vacuum therapy. Medical supply companies created some effective machines in the 1930s and 1940s. The integration of the advanced modern pump was based on the medical use of suction cups for breastfeeding difficulties. Modern SPA equipment for the treatment of cellulite was itself derived from these older medical models.

Traditional glass suction cups

The items required for this method are glass suction cups or small cognac glasses, cotton wool, alcohol, a lighter or candle and towels to cover the client’s hair. A ball of cotten woolk is impregnated with alcohol and ignited. It is inserted inside the suction cup or glass to create a vacuum. The cotton wool ball is then emoved and the suction cup is quickly inverted and placed on the skin. The intensity of the flame and the speed of the inversion of the cup determine the strength of the suction.

Suction cup set with a manual vacuum pump

These sets with manual vacuum creation allow the same movements as traditional suction cups. The suction cup connection hose allows the practitioner to create the suction and to control the air outlet and the power of the vacuum, which facilitates the movement. This versatility offers a wide range of applications, from lymphatic drainage using powerful suction to movements used to release deep tissue and scars..

Suction cup applications

Suction cup therapy can also be used to remove stagnation, relieve inflammation and displace fluids. The action is similar to the action of hot compresses. The mechanism consists of drawing blood from the arteries to the capillaries. The blood then returns through the venous system to be put back into the general circulation cleaned and oxygenated. The use of suction pads is not irritating to the skin or body. It attracts existing inflammation but does not create it.

Massage Cupping™ is also performed to lift and stretch the soft tissues (muscles, fascia, connective tissue, soft parts of the joints), to separate the layers of adherent tissue, especially at the tensor of the fascia lata and its connecting tissue, to soften scar tissue, to open up the body’s drainage systems to help decongest them and to increase tissue hydration. Bones also respond well to the treatment.