Fire cupping is a type of acupressure therapy; that is pressure applied to acupuncture points on the body. Specially designed glass cups are heated in such a way that when they are applied to the body a vacuum is created and the skin is gently pulled up into the cup.
In its simplest form, fire cupping is a type of deep tissue massage that promotes stress relief and relaxation. As a medicinal therapy, cupping has been used to treat a variety of diseases such as chronic bronchitis, asthma, colds, digestive diseases, musculoskeletal pain, some gynecological disorders, gastro-intestinal disorders, lung diseases, and paralysis, though it can be used for other disorders as well.
Thoughts about the ability of fire cupping to treat disease vary widely. The American Cancer Society states that there is no scientific evidence that fire cupping is an effective treatment for cancer or any other disease. Instead, Western medicine thinks that fire cupping helps stimulate circulation which in turn brings oxygen, white blood cells and lymph to affected areas which may alleviate symptoms of a disease rather than cure it.
On the other hand, practitioners of Traditional Chinese medicine believe that a person's chi, or vital energy, gets thrown out of balance when they are ill or have been injured. In Eastern society, it is thought that fire cupping pulls out blockages in the patient's chi which allows energy to flow more freely and promote healing.
Patients who have had fire cupping done report benefits that range from feelings of deep relaxation and pain relief to the actual curing of the common cold.