Fire cupping is a therapeutic activity that originates in eastern alternative medicine. Practitioners of fire cupping heat the air inside a glass bowl or cup. The cup is then applied to the skin, causing a vacuum to form inside it. Although there is no conclusive evidence of its efficacy, proponents of cupping claim that it can relieve cold symptoms, reduce cellulite dimpling, lessen arthritic symptoms, depression, and even swelling. Western theorists maintain that the vacuum increases blood and lymph flow, resulting in improved circulation, and—ultimately—healing. Eastern theorists believe that cupping removes blockages in the body's own natural energy, or chi.

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Use a hemostat to hold the lit cotton ball you put inside the cupping bowl.

Step 1

Purchase glass cupping bowls specifically designed for cupping. Sets will contain bowls in a variety of sizes. Each bowl has a smooth edge and is thick enough to be durable. The size of the individual bowl as well as the size of the opening in it determines the amount of pressure created by the vacuum.

Step 2

Lightly coat the inside of each bowl with isopropyl alcohol.

Step 3

Securely clamp a cotton ball into the hemostat. Dab the cotton ball with isopropyl alcohol.

Step 4

Light the cotton ball.

Step 5

Hold the cupping bowl in one hand, several inches above the skin, and place the lit cotton bowl in the opening to the bowl. Listen for the sound of the alcohol coating inside the cup burning.

Step 6

Withdraw the cotton ball, and place the bowl opening against the skin. As the warmed air uses up the oxygen inside the bowl, a vacuum is created. The resulting suction causes the bowl to adhere to the skin as the air inside the cup cools. Repeat for each bowl, before extinguishing the cotton.

Step 7

Leave the cups on the skin for 1 to 15 minutes. You may leave the bowls alone, or gently move them around.

Step 8

Push your finger under the lip of a cup to remove it.