What conditions does cupping treat?

What conditions does cupping treat?

What conditions does cupping treat? Cupping is traditionally used to treat lung disorders like

  • cough,
  • bronchial congestion, and
  • asthma.

It is also traditionally used for

  • paralysis,
  • digestive complaints, and
  • pain.

Researchers have studied cupping primarily in China, finding benefit in conditions such as anxietydepressionback painvaricose veinshigh blood pressureeczemaacnefertilityarthritisfibromyalgiadiabetesanemiashingles (herpes zoster), insomnia, and gout.


Cupping is often recommended as a complementary therapy for the following conditions:23

  • Back pain
  • Headache or migraine
  • Knee pain
  • Muscle pain and soreness
  • Neck and shoulder pain
  • Sports injuries and performance

In traditional Chinese medicine, cupping is said to stimulate the flow of vital energy (also known as “qi” or “chi“) and help correct any imbalances arising from illness or injury. It’s sometimes combined with acupuncture and tuina, other therapies said to promote the flow of energy.

What conditions does cupping treat?
What conditions does cupping treat?

How Does Cupping Therapy Work?

To create the suction inside the cups, the practitioner may them by placing a flammable substance (such as herbs, alcohol, and/or paper) inside each cup and then igniting that substance. Next, the practitioner places the cup upside down on the body. During a typical cupping treatment, between three and seven cups are placed on the body.

Today, many practitioners use a manual or electric pump to create the vacuum, or use self-suctioning cupping sets. After the cups are in place, they are usually removed after five to ten minutes. (Practitioners may practice “flash” cupping, by quickly attaching then removing the cup repeatedly.)

Some practitioners apply massage oil or cream and then attach silicone cups, sliding them around the body rhythmically for a massage-like effect. – What conditions does cupping treat?

In a procedure known as “wet cupping,” the skin is punctured prior to treatment. This causes blood to flow out of the punctures during the cupping procedure, which is thought to clear toxins from the body.4


To date, there is a lack of high-quality scientific research to support the use of cupping to treat any health condition. For instance, a 2011 research review sized up seven trials testing cupping in people with pain (such as low back pain); results showed that most of the studies were of poor quality.4

In another research review published in 2017, scientists analyzed 11 studies that tested the use of cupping by athletes. The review’s authors concluded that no explicit recommendation could be made for or against the use of cupping in athletes and that further studies are needed. Some studies did show that cupping improved perceptions of pain and disability and had favorable effects on range of motion compared to no cupping.3

Although cupping is sometimes recommended to increase flexibility in athletes, a small study published in the Journal of Sports Rehabilitation in 2018 found no change in hamstring flexibility after a seven-minute cupping session using four cups. Study participants were NCAA Division III college soccer players without symptoms – What conditions does cupping treat?

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