Practitioners claim that cupping can help flush away toxins, strengthen body resistance and balance positive and negative forces within. More research must be completed to verify these claims.

Cupping involves placing suction-cupped cups over your skin using suction, increasing blood flow, loosening adhesions and extracting excess fluids from them. Cupping can also enhance immune systems, digestion and respiratory issues by relieving pressure from within them.


Cupping therapy has a rich tradition across cultures. It is thought to strengthen resistance, restore equilibrium between positive and negative forces, remove disease-causing factors and enhance blood circulation – as well as help recovery after strenuous training in athletes.

Cupping therapy may also assist in treating various conditions, such as fibromyalgia, migraines and arthritis. It has also been known to treat chronic neck and back pain along with plantar fasciitis, sprains and strains. A session can stimulate chemical breakdown to accelerate recovery after exercise as well as decrease any associated discomfort.

Cupping may leave red to purple marks where the cups have been placed, which tend to fade away over time due to blood vessels expanding more readily when heated by your body and pulling up heat and moisture from it, providing more oxygen to that area, thus aiding healing while increasing flexibility and range of motion.

Occasional cupping may result in infection; this complication should only arise if cups aren’t thoroughly sterilized before each use or the therapist applies too much pressure on the cups during treatment. Also, low blood pressure patients could temporarily experience increased heart rates as the suction can temporarily increase your heartbeat rate due to suctioning action.

If you are contemplating cupping as part of a therapy plan, be sure to first discuss it with your physician. Discuss any complementary, alternative and integrative health approaches you are exploring, so they may help connect you with practitioners experienced in treating your specific condition. It is also a good idea to maintain regular visits related to your condition in addition to adding cupping therapy; this will ensure that you’re receiving optimal health care.


As with anything, cupping therapy has both its own unique set of advantages and drawbacks. While generally safe, some individuals may experience side effects from this treatment such as skin marks, bruises, pain or discomfort which varies in intensity from person to person – those with sensitive skin should seek out an experienced cupping therapist in order to minimize potential adverse effects from cupping therapy sessions.

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Cupping therapy offers more than pain relief; it also improves chronic fatigue and sleep conditions, increases blood circulation in the area where cups are placed, soothes muscle tension and promotes cell repair, as well as release waste products like uric acid which accumulate in the body over time.

Although cupping has shown some promise in relieving various conditions, more research needs to be conducted. Although high-quality studies utilize placebos as control groups in their trials, comparing treatment and control groups can be challenging with complementary therapies like cupping since there is no physical pill to administer to patients. Still, many people claim cupping has helped alleviate pain, depression and anxiety in their own lives.

Cupping therapy has long been associated with leaving circular bruises on the skin that last anywhere from one day to several weeks, though they should not necessarily indicate how well a treatment session went. Bruises result from when cups press against the surface of your skin, forcing blood vessels to expand; as these small blood vessels expand they sometimes break, leaving red or purple marks behind that indicate success of treatment sessions.

Cupping therapy may also deplete your Qi (pronounced “chee”), or vital energy, due to how the cups create suction that draws internal tissues upward and pushes organs against each other. Therefore, after each cupping session it’s advisable to drink plenty of water or herbal tea to flush away excess fluid and toxins that build up inside you.

Cupping is not advised for seniors or children as their skin may be fragile; pregnant women or those taking certain medications, like blood thinners are also advised against receiving cupping treatments.

Side effects

Cupping therapy has long been used for treating muscle pain, headaches and migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis and chronic fatigue. While generally safe, it should only be performed under supervision by trained practitioners, and must not be performed on broken or irritated skin. Furthermore, pregnancy women or those suffering from bleeding disorders, epilepsy blood clotting issues psoriasis eczema cancer heart disease etc should avoid using cupping therapy.

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Suction created by cups opens small blood vessels under your skin, leaving red-purple marks that resemble bruises but are less painful than traditional bruises. They should gradually fade within a week or so; however, your therapist must take caution not to apply too much pressure as doing so could cause scarring and worsen conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Dry cupping involves heating each cup by either setting an alcohol-soaked cotton ball ablaze or using another heating tool with similar functions, creating a vacuum which draws skin up into each cup. In wet cupping, lotion or oil is first applied to the skin prior to placing cups; they may then move them around or leave them stationary as necessary.

Cupping may have benefits and risks; the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health indicates this by noting additional studies needing to be completed in order to fully comprehend them. It shouldn’t replace medical care but rather act as a complement.

Shestopal notes that one of the primary side effects of cupping is temporary skin discoloration, often seen as red to purple circular marks where cups were applied, although these should only last a few days. You may experience some soreness post session, though typically not to the extent seen with many muscle tightness issues; she adds this should dissipate as your muscles relax over time. Before your cupping session begins, your practitioner may ask you to fill out a form detailing your medical history so they’re aware of any conditions which might prevent this therapy from being safe for you.


As long as cupping therapy is performed by a qualified practitioner, it should be safe for most people. Infants or young children, especially those with thin skin, may be uncomfortable; cuts or open wounds should not be used; blood thinner users and those living with liver, kidney or heart disorders are advised against participating; cupping therapy should not be undertaken during pregnancy either.

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Cupping may work by increasing blood flow to the area where cups are applied. When suction breaks capillaries under the skin, causing discolorations that looks similar to bruises; this encourages your body to release healing agents to this spot which alleviate pain and accelerate healing.

Cupping therapy can also assist with other issues, including skin conditions, pain in the back, shoulders and neck area, digestive complaints, anxiety and depression. A cupping session usually entails placing cups over specific acupuncture points that correspond with each of these problems – these acupuncture points being considered the center of life force energy which initiates illness in humans.

Potential advantages include weight loss, increased energy, decreased muscle tension and improved sleep. The technique may also ease symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia and migraines; treat herpes zoster and acne; assist in varicose vein treatment as well as help regulate high blood pressure levels.

Even though cupping has received high-quality research to support its use, not enough research has been conducted on it to show its efficacy. If considering new treatments it is always advisable to discuss them with a healthcare provider first and consult low-quality studies first before trying anything new; some low-quality studies have revealed its ability to reduce pain; however it remains unknown if this is due to placebo effect or true health benefits.

If you are curious to learn more about cupping therapy, reach out to a practitioner near you or visit the International Cupping Therapy Association website to locate one near you. In addition, read up on ICTA’s Guidelines for Safe Cupping Practice as a way of exploring this treatment method.