Alternative MethodsConventional Methods

March 24

Trying out some Chinese Therapy - Fire Cupping

Bobbie Hayes
Core Spirit member since Dec 24, 2020
Reading time 4 min.

China is well-known for its alternative medical treatments. Despite being used for thousands of years in the East, it doesn’t prevent the average Westerner viewing such behavior with a sense of wonder and occasional condescension: ‘So, let me get this straight…you drink snake liquor to… cure your arthritis?’

While many Chinese people I have met seem to swear by such alternative methods, I wasn’t particularly up for digesting snakes, sea horses and the like. One friend, however, recently asked if I was willing to try a full-body Chinese massage, and seeing as it was a particularly uneventful Sunday evening, I happily obliged.

During the massage - while the masseuse lady was rather comfortably walking along my back - she asked if I would like to try 拔罐 (bá guàn). At first I had no idea what she was talking about, so naturally I asked her to repeat. Finally, she added another word to her question in an attempt to make me register her meaning, and as Chinese can be made easier with a little context I managed to figure out what she had said. The word she had added was火 (huǒ), and being in an environment where various treatments were on offer, I realized the practice she was offering could only be one thing: fire cupping.

Fire cupping is an ancient process which involves a local suction created (usually) on the back. Practitioners believe it mobilizes blood flow, promotes healing, and treats respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, bronchitis and even the common cold.

In all honesty, I had my doubts; Admittedly, I don’t know much about Chinese medicine, or any medicine at all for that matter, and I wasn’t convinced that this would do me any good. Nevertheless, I’d heard from one of my Chinese teachers at That’s Mandarin that it was a popular treatment amongst the Chinese, and I’m almost always up for a new experience.

As the full-body massage came to a close, I was quite looking forward to this bizarre, exotic practice of having jars placed along my back to cause a suction so powerful I would be left bruised for several days. The masseuse went out to gather her things and re-entered the room rolling a small, squeaky trolley with a number of fist-sized jars stacked on both shelves. I must admit I was quite excited. After all, it was moments like this when I remember just how far I am from home, and how the act of placing fire filled jars on your back is quite different from the average Sunday night in rainy England.

She first asked me to lie on my back and explained that she would start the process on my legs. Quickly she dabbed the small pots across my calves in a swift swiping motion, as if to test my endurance in some way. It felt nice at first, until she planted one firmly onto the side of my calf and just left it there, allowing me to see the skin rising up like a cake in an oven. It was this point that I realized just how uncomfortable this would be, and my excitement started to decline.

She removed the jar after 3 minutes and I took a closer look at my leg. It wasn’t quite as bruised as I expected it to be, but it certainly did ache. Next she instructed me to lie on my front. As she began placing the jars on my back, I asked how long it would take. ‘Oh, maybe 15 minutes or so. Don’t worry,’ she reassured ‘you’ll be ok’. That’s when the fun began - fun for my friend sitting next to me of course.

The first cup went on and it felt like the skin was being pinched and twisted. While I let her know the lack of comfort I was feeling, she asked if it was too painful and if I would like it to be removed. Obviously I had paid for the treatment so I had to go through with it. What’s more, I didn’t want to come across as a fragile weakling either, so I did what any normal Brit would do: kept calm and carried on.

I now asked again, just for my own reassurance, if I had heard right the first time - that the process would last a full 15 minutes. ‘Well, normally it is 15 minutes’, she said with a laugh, ‘but your skin has too much moisture, so I think 5 minutes should be enough’. It was around the 4 minute mark that my friend laying down on the bed beside me let out a huge laugh and exclaimed how far my skin had risen inside the jars. ‘It looks….awful,’ he stated.

As I became more and more worried that my delicate, over-moist skin would be damaged for life, the masseuse returned and peeled off the jars one by one. Looking back, this was perhaps the best part of the treatment.

I asked if they could take a photo of my new back, and they kindly agreed. My friend was right: it did look awful. As I carefully slid my clothes back on, the lumps were plainly visible and protruded out of my shirt. ‘Don’t shower tonight’ they finally warned, and I explained that I wouldn’t be showering any time soon.

Finally we got back and I decided to sleep. It was impossible to lie on my back and I spent the whole night going from front to side.

With it now being a week since my treatment, the red circles have finally gone, but as for the health effects, I really don’t notice any difference. One thing I will say is that if you are here in China and have the opportunity go for fire cupping therapy with a friend, you should seize it. Not only may you never get another chance to do it, but bear in mind that it may be much less painful for you than it was for me (this has nothing to do with me being a weakling. It’s just the excess moisture…*ahem*).

Additionally, it was extremely entertaining for my friend when they slapped the jars on my back, but even funnier when it was his turn and I got to witness him getting a taste of his own Chinese medicine.

All in all, the treatment didn’t leave me feeling particularly fresh, healed or invigorated, but instead gave me a sore, unsightly back. It was certainly a worthwhile experience though, and I guess the only thing left for me to try is acupuncture. But then again, maybe not…

by Study Chinese In China


Leave your questions here

To write a comment you must
Category filter
Concern filter
Type filter

All categories

Spiritual Healing
$55 USD
1 Hr Intuitive Nutrition Coaching Call

Dive in and discover your biggest areas of struggle and how to tap into the intuition for guidance.
We will talk about your history and your goals for your wel…

Jess Olson
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
Praying for the Sick and Depressed

Are you sick? Are you really depressed? Do you feel that your life is worthless?
Come book a session with me and see the changes that will occur after that.

Luck Richards Omorede
Chakra Balancing
$10 USD
Soul To Soul Reading Session

Energetic Reading

Complete Chakra System Reading to identify energy blocks.
Techniques are provided to restore balance.

What Is An Energetic Reading?


Deborah Lucero
Spiritual Healing
$222 USD
Healing from Trauma at a Quantum Soul Level

Are you burnt out from clinical therapy practices that require years of treatment with few results? Are you ready to release and transmute your trauma once and…

LunaRio Silver Deer
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
I will do spiritual transformation for you

I will do spiritual transformation. Life occurs as a series of cycles in a single human lifetime. Cycles exist in almost a spiral pattern. There is a flow and …

Wisdom Realms
Career Coaching
$499 USD
Reset 1-0n1 Coaching and Mentoring Programme

Are you returning to work after a career break, or are you looking for a new job or career change?

This programme is for you.

I’ve developed the RESET coachi…

Carla Martins
Life Coaching
$399 USD
1-on-1 Coaching

The journey started with our discovery call, and You decided: ” I’m ready! Let’s do this!”.

We will engage in 1-on-1 coaching sessions for 90 minutes. In this…

Carla Martins
Emotional Stress Release
$800 USD
Retreat( India): Connect With Your Inner Wisdom 1st to 4th Sept

Join us for an immersive experience anchored amidst the beauty and tranquillity of Kasar Devi, Almora, India

1st Sept’22 ( Thursday) - 4th Sept 2022 ( Sunday …

Psychic Reading
$80 USD
I will do oracle and tarot card readings

I will do oracle & tarot card reading in any area of your life. You will get answer from the Angelic, Elemental, Faerie or Galactic realms. I will share wi…

Wisdom Realms
Natal Astrology
$15 USD
15 min reading of SOUL structure

[SOUL STRUCTURE]Each soul has own structure,and knowing it means to have unlimited access to inner energy. This readings are telling about your talents and str…

Ksenia Jdanova
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Ask a Question?

Supportive reflection of a current question that you would like clarity around. Using the SMART method to seek quidance in stepping onto your path of potential…

Beverly Lynn
$150 USD
Reiki Services (distant healing session)

In this hour long distant healing session I will use long distance Reiki, crystals and essential oils to balance your Chakras. Balancing your Chakras allows en…

Erin Kirby
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Intuitive Tarot Reading

Affordable Tarot reading to offer guidance on any given concern.

Elphie Shoppe
$10 USD
Talk Therapy Sessions

Hello there: These times are dread. Do you need to talk with a safe professional about a troubling personal challenge? I am a professional listener and will li…

Eulalee Thompson
Tarot Reading
$10 USD
Tarot Reading

I offer tarot readings with a 100% accuracy rate. The tarot is meant to give you advice, to point you in the right direction or to provide you with clarity. Bu…

Zara Kalil
Angel Healing
$10 USD
Mental Health Advice & Tips

I can help you with past issues and give advice and tips on how to better your life. I can see through my third eye and receive messageson what you need to do …

Beings Of Light
Life Coaching
$10 USD
Discovery call

Are you interested in supporting your health with safe and effective holistic medicine? Not sure if you should switch diets, work with a health coach or explor…

Suzana Da Costa
Wellness Coaching
$50 USD
Mental Health and Holistic Lifestyle Coaching

Hi there! I’m Doug and I offer 1 on 1 Holistic Lifestyle and Mental Health Coaching sessions. Navtigating life with mental health issues of any sevarity is a h…

Doug Peterson
Wellness Coaching
$10 USD
Mental Health and Holistic Lifestyle Coaching Consultation

Hi there! I’m Doug and I offer 1 on 1 Holistic Lifestyle and Mental Health Coaching sessions. Navtigating life with mental health issues of any sevarity is a h…

Doug Peterson
Family Psychology
$10 USD
Psychic Reading

Expert in Love Relationship, Tarot Psychic Reading
I can give you more powerful insight of every part of your life. With the help of Crystal ball my Psychic re…

Aamir Bilal
Career Coaching
$195 USD
Holistic Lifestyle & Nutrition Coaching


If this sounds like you, then you don’t need a new diet… you n…

David Giddings
Bach flower therapy
$120 USD
Bach Flower Essence Consultation

Exploration of where you’re feeling stuck or limited in life and recommendations of Bach Flower Essences to help loosen and dissolve old patterns.

Suzana Da Costa
Cognitive-behavioral therapy
$100 USD
Subliminal therapy

In this service we will use Subliminal therapy and Sound healing as alternative to tradition cognitive behavioral therapy.

We are born with our thoughts. Do n…

Ahmed Amin Youssef
Spiritual Healing
$10 USD
Intro 2 Alignment Healing Chant


That is my greeting to the spirit within you. Join me for a welcome introduction session to celebrate my arrival at Core Spirit!

For 15 minutes I wi…

Ti3rc3 Fire