Cupping (a manipulative and body-based practice Manipulative and Body-Based Practices Complementary or alternative medicine can be classified into five major categories of practice: Whole medical systems Mind-body techniques Biologically based practices Manipulative and body-based... read more ) is used in traditional Chinese medicine Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Originating in China several millennia ago, traditional Chinese medicine is based on the theory that illness results from the imbalance of the life force (qi, pronounced chee) through the body... read more . Cupping is believed to increase blood flow to the area on which a cup is placed, thereby improving healing in that area.
The air inside a cup is heated, often using a rubber pump in modern practice. The heated cup is immediately inverted and placed on the skin. The resulting vacuum sucks the skin partway into the cup, which may be left in place for several minutes.
Cupping can help reduce neck and low back pain. Cupping has been used in combination with acupuncture Acupuncture Acupuncture, a therapy within traditional Chinese medicine, is one of the most widely accepted CAM therapies in the Western world. Licensed practitioners do not necessarily have a medical degree... read more and moxibustion Moxibustion Moxibustion (a manipulative and body-based practice) is a therapy within traditional Chinese medicine. Dried moxa herb (a mugwort) is burned usually just above but sometimes directly on the... read more to treat postherpetic neuralgia Postherpetic Neuralgia Postherpetic neuralgia is chronic pain in areas of skin supplied by nerves infected with herpes zoster ( shingles). Shingles is a painful rash of fluid-filled blisters that is caused by reactivation... read more . Cupping has also been used in metabolic syndrome Metabolic Syndrome Metabolic syndrome is characterized by a large waist circumference (due to excess abdominal fat), high blood pressure, resistance to the effects of insulin (insulin resistance) or diabetes,... read more , facial paralysis, acne, and respiratory symptoms but evidence for its effectiveness for these is limited.
Cupping will redden and may burn the skin.
(See also Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Integrative medicine and health (IMH) and complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) include a variety of healing approaches and therapies that historically have not been included in conventional... read more .)
The following English-language resource may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): Cupping