“Acupuncture and cupping, more than half of the ills cured.” – Traditional Chinese saying Cupping therapy is an integral part of the traditional healing arts in China, much of the Middle East and regions of Europe. Also known as forced congestion, cupping increases blood circulation to targeted areas. The technique involves igniting an alcohol-soaked cotton ball gripped by a hemostat, then holding it inside the opening of the glass cup to heat the air within. When heated, the cup is flipped over and placed on the treatment area, creating a vacuum on the skin. The suction and negative pressure gently pulls the skin and superficial muscle layer up, expanding the blood vessels – which loosens muscles, encourages blood flow and sedates the nervous system. Cupping is used to relieve back, neck and shoulder pain, stiff muscles, rheumatism, respiratory conditions, anxiety, fatigue and migraines – among many other conditions. It is especially therapeutic, as the body's natural reaction to pain causes a secondary muscle contraction. When the muscles constrict, the blood supply is restricted, causing the surface to become ischemic, which produces secondary pain to the surface area. Cupping – combined with acupuncture – causes a reflex mechanism that helps to reduce or eliminate pain and promote circulation.