What is Cupping Therapy | How does it work ?

What is Cupping Therapy | How does it work ?

While following major beauty/skincare trends, we have discovered not one but many beneficial therapy and treatments. These treatments not only rejuvenate your skin but also promise semi-permanent/permanent results. Now let’s steer a little away from skincare to full-body health. The majority of people are in a toxic relationship with their laptops and work. Slouching to your laptop screens disrupts your body posture and gives sprains. While there are many things available like yoga, spa, massage that helps to release stress or to cope with the crazy work week, cupping therapy is one such therapy that tends to your body pain, neck pain, among other ailments.

Cupping is a form of alternative medicine where heated cups are placed on your skin, providing a vacuum to suck toxins from your skin. It provides a plethora of medicinal benefits that sports recovery. However, It gained budding popularity with young professional athletes and amateurs.

What is cupping Therapy?

Cupping Therapy is an ancient Chinese form of alternative therapy. Practitioners have been using this therapy for thousands of years for a wide range of health problems. Few uncommon names for cupping are vacuum cupping, horn treatment, hijama cupping, etc. It is one of the oldest and most efficient therapies to draw toxins and impurities tissue towards the surface for elimination. It removes stagnation and stimulates the flow of vital energy inside the body. Stagnation can cause imbalance if there is a disruption in the natural flow.

Cupping has been used for many years to ease body pain, neck pain, headaches, or other problems. It creates a suction force that pulls blood by placing hot cups on the skin. The suction facilitates the healing of blood flow. It is designed to help the body reduce inflammation, promote relaxation, and as a type of deep tissue massage. Moreover, cupping also helps increase blood circulation, relieve muscle tension, improve overall blood flow, and promote cell repair.

There are different cupping methods like moving cupping, strong cupping, hot needle cupping, herbal cupping, water cupping, etc. Each of these serves a purpose that signifies relief. For example, they can be used to ease pain, break up scar tissue.

How does it work?

Cupping therapy uses cups to be placed on the body. The cups can be of different sizes or materials like glass, bamboo, silicone, etc. They usually look like snow globe-like balls. Adding to it, the therapist puts a flammable substance like alcohol or paper in a cup and sets it on fire. As the fire goes out, they put the cup on your skin upside down.

As the fire goes out and the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum. This makes your skin rise and swells as the blood vessels expand. The cups are usually placed on the neck, back, or shoulders. The part of your body beneath the cup becomes red with swelling as it tries to pull the blood onto the surface. The cup is generally kept for no more than 3 minutes.

There are two kinds of cupping therapy:

  • Wet
  • Dry

In wet cupping, a mild suction is created by keeping the cups for almost 3 minutes. After removing the cups, the therapist uses a small blade and makes tiny, minor cuts on your skin. Then a second suction is done to pull out a small quantity of blood.

Some believe that this blood contains impurities, toxins, and other harmful substances which are drawn out to promote healing. However, none of this is proven. The cups are removed by lifting one edge; this allows the air in and breaks the vacuum.

After the session is completed, the therapist applies an antibiotic ointment or a bandage to prevent infection. The skin looks normal again within ten days. Silicone cups can be used, which can move on your skin for a massage-like effect. Some people also go for a needle cupping where the therapist acupunctures your skin with needles before placing the cups.

Cupping therapy
Cupping therapy benefits and side effects

Benefits of Cupping Therapy

While there are no proven conclusions, experts believe that there are some significant benefits to cupping therapy like:

  • Reduces pain and inflammation
  • Alleviate skin conditions like acne
  • Sports recovery
  • Relaxation, deep tissue massage
  • Migraines, anxiety
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood disorders
  • Ease healing process

Cupping is also said to treat various diseases or conditions like:

  • Facial paralysis
  • Acne
  • Herpes zoster
  • Cough and dyspnea

Note: There isn’t enough research to back any of that up.

Who should avoid it?

You should avoid cupping therapy if you are on blood-thinning medication. Other conditions where cupping should be avoided:

  • You have a sunburn
  • If You have an open wound
  • You are scared of blood
  • If You have an internal organ disorder
  • You are currently menstruating
  • When You have a bleeding disorder
  • You have severe anemia

Children should avoid cupping who are under four years of age. Seniors should also steer clear of this therapy because the skin becomes more fragile as we age and any medication you might be on might have an effect. Pregnant women should avoid cupping the lower back and abdomen.

What are the side effects?

It is recommended that you go to a trained professional for cupping therapy. But you could have the below side effects in the area where the cups touch your skin. This happens when the cups are not appropriately sterilized, and the equipment becomes contaminated with blood.

  • Burns from heated cups
  • Skin infection
  • Bruises
  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Mild discomfort
  • Light-headedness
  • Excessive dry skin
  • Swelling

Your therapist must wear an apron, disposable gloves, and eye protection. In addition, they should use clean cups and equipment because if they are contaminated with other patients’ blood, it may cause blood disorders or other diseases like hepatitis.


There are not many high-quality studies that fully demonstrate the effectiveness of cupping. However, it is believed that cupping might help in pain relief, but the research is mainly low quality. Since the therapy starts thousands of years ago, no one knows how cupping helps people. While cupping is relatively safe and might complement an existing treatment, you should talk to your doctor before trying the cupping therapy since one minor miss-step can either burn your skin or give you extreme pain. Do visit your doctor regularly to rule out any of the conditions where you should not get cupping therapy.


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: