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Updated: 2014-07-22

There are several methods of cupping, one of them called "sustained cupping". "After the cup is sucked onto the skin, it is kept in place for about 10 minutes for an adult and three minutes for a child to induce a stagnant state of the skin, and then the cup is removed," says Zhou Peijuan, a hospital acupuncturist at the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. "This is the most common method ... and can be used to treat many common diseases."

Another method, called movable cupping, combines two methods of treatment: cupping and scraping, Zhou says. Before cupping, a small amount of lubricant is placed on the skin, the cup is sucked onto the skin, and is forcibly slid back and forth along a selected line until a bruise is formed. The cup is then removed.

In a third method, quick cupping, the cup is sucked to the skin, immediately removed then put back again. This procedure is repeated until the treated skin turns red.

Cupping is recommended for ailments including acute colds, gastro-intestinal disorders, chronic cough and asthma, paralysis and atrophy.

Contraindications or cautions include hemophilia or bleeding disorders, inflamed skin or open wounds, fever, heart problems, and pregnancy.

Cupping is used to improve circulation and stimulate the peripheral nervous system, but deciding what the appropriate remedy should be is crucial, because cupping is not a universal remedy, Zhou says.

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