What is Cupping & Spooning?

Have you ever seen those peculiar looking (round) marks on the back and shoulders of friends, people at the beach or maybe even on pictures of celebrities?

Did you wonder what it’s all about? 

Let me tell you….

It is mostly likely about “cupping” and “spooning” and about blood circulation, release of tension and more importantly about feeling better.


The use of cups, also known as ‘cupping’, in medicine has been around for thousands of years and developed independently in various forms around the World from China, to ancient Greece, Northern Europe, Africa and the Americas. Through times ‘cups’ were made from different materials such as bamboo, buffalo horn, and in recent times more commonly plastic or glass.

‘Cupping’ is a technique that involves the application of cups to the surface of the skin by creating suction and negative pressure, usually with heat. This stimulation increases the blood flow to the muscles and skin, loosens the tissues, stimulates the circulatory and nervous systems, and can draw out toxins, excess fluids and pathogens.

Cupping is mostly done on the back or other large muscle areas and over acupuncture points. The cups are usually in place for about 15 minutes and can be moved from one spot to another or used sliding over a larger area.

We most commonly use ‘cupping’ to relieve and treat joint and muscle pains, such as neck, shoulder- and backaches. We also use it in the treatments of a variety of more systemic complaints such as common colds, asthma, cough, digestive problems, period pains and fertility. Cupping is also believed to have some detoxifying effects and promote overall circulation.


‘Spooning’ also known as ‘Gua Sha’ refers to another traditional technique where a smooth porcelain spoon (such as a Chinese soup spoon) is used to rub or scrape the surface of the skin and thereby stimulate circulation and release tension and pathogens. Other smooth materials, such as jade or horn can also be used.

‘Cupping’ and ‘Spooning’ are often used in conjunction with acupuncture. The sensations of  ‘cupping’ and ‘spooning’ are often described as ‘weird but wonderful’, and the fast relief they can provide frequently surprise. Both techniques tend to leave temporary marks that may look like bruises, but don’t feel sore or painful to touch. These marks disappear within a few days to a week, and so does any pain and tension.

If you’d like to try ‘cupping’ or ‘spooning’ you’re in good hands with one of our qualified and experienced practitioners. Please note we most commonly use ‘cupping’ and ‘spooning’ as part of a more comprehensive treatment strategy and in conjunction with acupuncture‘Spooning’ (Gua Sha) is often used as part of cosmetic facial acupuncture treatments.


Please get in touch if you’d like to find out more or want to book appointment.


Written by Christina Tolstrup

Practitioner of Chinese Medicine at Natural Wellness