DALLAS — Jennifer Aniston was recently photographed with distinctive circular welts on her body.
The bruises, her representative confirmed, come from cupping, an ancient Chinese treatment dating back 5,000 years.
Cupping is based on the principles of acupuncture trigger points. Using heat or hand-operated pumps, suction is created on glass or plastic cups placed on the back.
"When I place the cup on your back, without the oxygen, it creates a vacuum and it's going to pull the muscle and the skin up into the cup," explained Kathryn McKenzie, a naturopathic doctor and licensed acupuncturist.
The primary goal is pain relief.
"It's almost going to be like a reverse-massage, where instead of pushing in, you're pulling up, and that's going to help create flow through the lymphatic and through the cardiovascular system, which is going to take away toxins and help bring nutrients and oxygen to the area... which will help with the healing effect," McKenzie explained.
Cupping is typically done in combination with other treatments, including massage or acupuncture. Costs typically runs near $100 per treatment, though the number of cups and the combination of treatments can influence the pricing.
There are few scientific studies to support the effectiveness of cupping. However, the "Aniston effect" has brought many requests for cupping to Exhale Spa and others in Dallas.
Lin Meyer, 49, tried it to relieve the stress that builds up in her shoulders from working at a computer and carpooling her kids.
"I want to just feel normal," Meyer said. "Not always have that ache in my back, my shoulder blades."
Meyer said the cupping process wasn't painful, though she was left with several large, red circles on her back.
The bruises from suctioning usually fade in a few days, but believers say the positive effects of cupping flow long after.