15 Best Benefits of Cupping Therapy

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

The benefits of cupping therapy may be somewhat debated in modern medicine, but it remains a popular technique in some parts of the world.

Cupping Therapy

The ancient Chinese therapeutic method of cupping is a very simple technique which involves the use of small cups to create suction. This therapy provides many benefits including relieving pain, fatigue, migraines and increasing blood flow.

Types of Cupping Therapy

There are two types of cupping:

  • Dry cupping
  • Wet cupping
A woman lying on her stomach, smiling, with cups attached to her back

Cupping therapy is good for pain relief. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Dry Cupping

  • In dry cupping therapy, the therapists light either alcohol, herbs, or small bits of paper on fire in the cup.
  • As the fire goes out, the therapist places the cup open side down on the patient. [1]
  • The cooling air in the cup creates a powerful suction force that draws the skin of the patient up.
  • The vacuum causes the blood vessels to expand and gives the muscles the equivalent of a deep tissue massage.
  • When the cups are removed after a few minutes, the patient is often left with red circles or bruises on their back, but proponents insist that the benefits are worth it.

Wet Cupping

In wet cupping, the therapist makes a small cut under each cup in order to draw small amounts of blood out with the suction. A practice called needle cupping also exists, where acupuncture needles are inserted and the cups are placed over them. [2]

Benefits of a Cupping Massage

Cupping is thought to help with disorders where improved circulation can restore balance to the body, or where muscles are inflamed. It is used to treat various health issues that include:

It helps reduce inflammation for sufferers of fibromyalgia and arthritis. When paired with massage, cupping is thought to detoxify the body and help correct chemical imbalances. Modern research has shown cupping to also be effective in treating cervical spondylosis and facial paralysis. [4]

Side Effects of Cupping

People undergoing this therapy may experience side effects that include:

  • Skin irritation
  • Redness and bruising at the site of application
  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • In extreme cases, scarring

Note: Cupping is not recommended for women who are pregnant or menstruating.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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