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Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy, which uses cups to create suction on the skin, is a popular treatment for muscle tension, chronic pain, fatigue, and inflammation. It has been a key part of traditional Middle Eastern and Chinese medicine for thousands of years.1

Ancient Egyptians used cupping over 5,500 years ago, and the therapy spread to cultures around the world. The 2016 Olympic Games helped raise awareness worldwide when U.S. athletes bore cupping suction marks on their backs.

Cupping involves the application of specialized cups to areas of the body to stimulate healing. Cupping works by creating suction on an area of skin. This generates the action of tissue decompression that promotes relaxation and healing. Cupping therapy provides many positive health benefits by releasing a myriad of pain-causing factors, making it an excellent addition to any healthcare routine.


In the Western countries Cupping has fast become one of the hottest holistic healing treatments due to its ability to reduce muscular tension and inflammation, increase blood and lymphatic flow locally and systematically, draw out stagnant blood and lymph, dead cellar debris, pathogenic factors, and toxins, stimulate the body’s circulatory and immune system functions. Cupping doesn’t just feel amazing; it can also help with chronic pain, myofascial release, digestive issues, fatigue, sciatica and fibromyalgia, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety and depression.

According to traditional Chinese medicine, cupping opens skins pores and stimulates blood flow. It is thought to help balance the flow of energy called the qi. Cupping is often used along with acupuncture and massage therapies.

Cupping therapy is generally safe for many conditions. You may experience a warm, stretching sensation, but the procedure should not hurt. If you feel pain, your practitioner should reduce suction or end the treatment. It does leave a circular mark on the body to mostly last for 2-3 days, and occasionally a little longer.

Cupping Back Marks.jfif

How Does It Work?

Several theories are used to explain how cupping therapy can bring relief, including:

  • Gate control theory of pain: This theory suggests that cupping therapy increases the frequency of pain impulses. The intense, prolonged stimulation causes small and large nerve fibers to counteract each other. This may help reduce the sensation of pain.4

  • Conditioned pain modulation: This concept, also called diffuse noxious inhibitory controls (DNICs), is based on the idea that one type of pain can mask another. An area of discomfort may experience relief as pressure or pain is applied to another area of the body.8

  • Reflex zone theory: This theory, often referred to as reflexology, claims that body organs are linked by interactions between nerves, muscles, and chemicals. A problem in one organ limits the flow of blood and other fluids near that organ. Other parts of the body may show uncomfortable symptoms as a result. Cupping therapy may stimulate skin nerve receptors and improve blood flow through nerve connections to the affected body part.4

Cupping Shoulders.webp

Benefits of Cupping Therapy

Cupping therapy has a reputation for easing discomfort and improving quality of life. The following conditions may improve with this treatment:4

  • Low-back pain: Cupping can help lessen pain and improve function among people with acute and chronic low-back pain.

  • Fibromyalgia: Cupping therapy, alone or with acupuncture and conventional medicine, has successfully relieved pain in patients with fibromyalgia, a condition of widespread musculoskeletal pain.

  • Chronic neck pain: Cupping therapy can help relax neck muscles and make them more flexible.9

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: Cupping may help reduce pain and numbness associated with carpal tunnel syndrome, which affects the hands and wrists.

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding: Dry cupping may help decrease the amount of menstrual blood flow in women with menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding).

Cupping therapy also shows potential help for:7

  • Digestive issues

  • Diseases of the lungs and airways, including bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia

  • Eczema (red, itchy skin) and boils (painful infection of hair follicles)

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)

  • Cellulite (fat deposits beneath the skin that cause a dimpled appearance)

Side Effects

Cupping is generally safe, but you may experience minor side effects during or immediately after cupping therapy. The following conditions typically subside within a few days or weeks:

  • Erythema (redness of the skin where cups were placed)

  • Ecchymosis (skin discoloration due to blood moving from ruptured blood vessels into the skin’s top layer)

  • Light-headedness or dizziness

  • Worsened psoriasis or eczema

Be Mindful of Your Skin

Cupping is not advisable if you have sensitive or fragile skin. In cases of skin trauma, wait until you have improved before beginning or resuming this treatment.

Cupping also carries a slight risk of infection, especially if the equipment isn’t disinfected between patients. Your practitioner should be following proper cleaning and sanitation guidelines to help you avoid this.10

Rare side effects include:

  • Nausea

  • Sweating

  • Skin scarring

  • Hematoma (abnormal bruise from a broken blood vessel)

  • Bleeding if cupping is done on the scalp

  • Anemia from repeated wet cupping

Consult your cupping therapist if you experience any of these side effects. They may advise you on ways to avoid or ease injury.

How to Prepare for Cupping Therapy

Before your cupping session, eat a light meal about two hours ahead to help ensure you’ll have energy stores. It is best not to do cupping on an empty stomach when the body may be weaker than normal. On the other hand, a full stomach may make your session uncomfortable.

Avoid greasy foods and increase your water intake to help with detoxifying your body.


Cupping therapy is an age-old practice to help ease tension, chronic pain, and inflammation. It uses special cups that stretch and relax the skin and muscles. Although temporary red marks may result, the procedure does not normally cause extreme discomfort.

Cupping can stimulate the nerves and blood flow to mask or decrease the feeling of pain. It may also support the body's own healing capabilities.

This treatment may enhance your healthcare regimen. Cupping has brought relief to people dealing with fatigue, migraines, high blood pressure, and a host of respiratory conditions. However, a cupping therapist should not replace your primary healthcare provider.

Never forget your duty,

health is real beauty.

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