Chinese glass cupping set

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How to Choose the Best Cupping Set?

How to Choose the Best Cupping Set

Top Best Cupping Sets Based on Reviews and Price

Last updated on October 9, pm

Why Do Cupping Therapy?

Cupping therapy is a Chinese healing method that has been used for more than two thousand years. This healing technique was invented in ancient China and is now gaining momentum in the Western world.

Cupping is used to alleviate pain, reduce tension, improve skin health, and improve your general health condition. Recently, even professional athletes started using cupping therapy to speed up their recovery after a high-intensity training session. Their continuous therapies and social media has skyrocketed the interest in cupping therapy.

People don’t care much about things like western medicines, which come from other parts of the world. However, they are showing interest in cupping therapy more and more. The feedback is overwhelmingly positive, as millions of people find cupping very helpful.

One of the best things about cupping is that one can do it at home. However, to do that, you will need to buy a cupping set first. Every cupping set is different, and you just can’t buy any random cupping set based on price or any other factor.

How to Choose a Cupping Set?

Here is a list of 10 factors to consider when choosing a cupping set. Follow this guide, and you will be able to choose a set that will help you make the most of your cupping therapy.

10 Factors to Consider When Buying a Cupping Set

1. Material

Cups can be made from glass, plastic, ceramic, metal, bamboo, bronze, copper, or some other material. Copper and bronze cups were used back in the days when even glass wasn’t invented, and now they are practically out of use. Glass cups are used, but if you are not careful, they can be easily damaged or broken. Even a small scratch can damage your skin. Plastic and silicone cups are the most popular ones for home-usage. They are light, very durable, and transparent.

2. Consider the Number of Cups

One of the best things you can do before buying a set of cups is to go to a professional massage center for a cupping massage. That way, you can learn how many cups you need to buy by simply counting the number of cups the professional therapist uses.

3. Cup Size

For the best results, you need to use multiple cups featuring multiple sizes. Most sets are made of cups featuring different sizes. But most doesn’t mean all of them.

Cups of different diameters give you the flexibility to cover various areas of your body. That’s one of the most essential elements of the cupping therapy experience.

4. Consider Facial Cupping

The cuppings that are used for body therapy can’t be used for facial cupping. They are different in both form and size.

Therefore, if you want to do facial cupping, make sure you buy the ones specialized for that. Usually, one set of facial cups is enough. They come in a box that also contains instructions on how to make the most of them.

The point is there isn’t one type for all purposes. If you plan to do body cupping therapy, you buy one set, and if you plan to do facial cupping, you will need another type of cups.

5. Cupping Type

Over the years, several forms of cupping have been developed. The most popular forms of cupping include sets for

  • Dry cupping
  • Fire cupping 
  • Wet cupping
  • Massage cupping
  • Needle cupping 

Even though there are so many forms of cupping, not all are recommended for home application. Most cupping therapists recommend only dry cupping for home-usage. In dry cupping, a vacuum is created which draws the skin up. The vacuum can be created by a small vacuum pump, holding the open end of the cup near a small flame, or by directly heating the cup.

Other cupping methods, like massage cupping, are a bit more demanding. For example, in massage cupping, the cups are moved from one to another area so that you get both cupping and massage. In wet cupping, the therapist makes small incisions and draws some blood from the patient. Then there is fire cupping in which the therapist places a small cotton ball (previously soaked in alcohol) in the cup. Then the ball is set on fire to heat the air within the cup. As a result, the vacuum is formed.

Each of these methods is potentially risky and can do more harm than good unless performed by an experienced practitioner. That is why dry cupping is recommended for home-usage.

The only associated risk with dry cupping is if you start a small flame so that you can create a vacuum. The risk here is that you can burn yourself or unintentionally create a fire by dropping the flame torch.

6. Cupping on the Go

Some folks are constantly on the road, and yet they need their cupping therapy. If that’s the case with you, then you need to purchase a set that comes with a carry travel bag.

The best option is to buy a silicone cupping set or a bamboo cupping set that comes with a proper carry travel bag. The bag doesn’t need to be too robust and should fit all the pieces. That way, you can have your cupping therapy in your hotel or any other place of stay.

Silicone and bamboo cups are durable, lightweight, and easy to use. Glass and ceramic cups are way heavier, more breakable, and generally bit less robust.

Furthermore, keep in mind that most hotels don’t allow fire flames in their rooms, even if it is a small flame to create a vacuum for your cups. Therefore, if you plan to do cupping on the go, you need to use suction cups or cups featuring a pump gun.

7. Pump Gun or Suction Cup

Unlike plastic cups that need a pump gun to create a vacuum, suction cups are made of silicon and can create a vacuum on their own.

Some people prefer the plastic cups featuring a pump gun because of the stronger suction, while others prefer the suction cups because you just need to press them against the body. Ideally, it is best to try both types before making a decision and choosing what works best for you.

Again, you might want to go to a massage salon that gives cupping therapies and ask for a treatment that includes both types of suction. That way, you can learn what works for you best. You can even ask the therapist about his/her thoughts on the matter.

8. Shape

The best ones are shaped so that they can be easily grabbed with one hand and easily placed on the body.

Once you start searching for cupping sets online, you will see that they come in all sizes and forms. Earlier, we’ve explained why size matters, but their form is quite important, too.

Placing a cup on some distant place on your back can be even more challenging if you can’t grab the cup firmly with your fingers.

9. Cleaning & Maintenance

After every therapy, the cups need to be cleaned. For most types, a simple rinse under some warm water is more than enough to get them cleaned. Afterward, you can leave them to dry on their own, or you can wipe them with a soft towel.

Plastic, bamboo, and glass cups are easiest to clean, unlike silicon cups that can be a bit messier. But generally speaking, the cleaning part won’t take too much time. Typically, you can have the entire set cleaned in just a couple of minutes.


Suction is the single most important aspect of any cupping therapy. But the thing with suction is that it needs to be just right. It should not be too much or too little for the best results.

Suction cups in that regard don’t offer any flexibility. But cups with pump guns can help you set the right amount of suction. The best way to approach this is if you first start with low suctions and work your way up. Stop at the point when you feel it is the right intensity.


Buying a cupping set is no rocket science, but at the same time, it isn’t a straightforward job. Consider the points mentioned here, but more than that, mind your preferences. That’s the best path to buying a cupping set, perfectly suitable for personal needs.

Cupping therapy is a % natural process without any known side effects but is only effective when done correctly. Some cupping sets include education material in their boxes, while others just the cups.

Cupping is not just about placing some cups on your back and waiting for the vacuum to do its thing before removing them. Cupping is also about placing the cups on the right spots, keeping them on your body for a certain period, and at the right suction intensity.

That’s the secret of super-effective cupping therapy, one that will make you feel better and will significantly improve your general health.

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Buying guide for best cupping sets

Cupping is an ancient healing tradition that has become visible in recent years with Olympic athletes and Hollywood celebrities sporting telltale circular bruises on their backs. This alternative medicine practice is generally performed by a licensed acupuncturist who applies specially designed cups to the skin to create suction. Inside the vacuum of the cup, skin rises and reddens with increased blood flow. After five to 20 minutes, the cup is removed, often leaving a circular bruise in its wake.  

Why in the world would anyone would do this? Cupping practitioners and devotees claim it helps draw toxins from the body and that it relieves muscle pain in a similar fashion to getting a deep tissue massage. Increased circulation to a specific area potentially provides healing benefits, and believe it or not, cupping can be a relaxing process.

Benefits of cupping

Cupping is an ancient healing tradition dating back some 3, years to societies in Egypt, the Middle East, and China. While there isn’t solid scientific research to back the health claims of cupping, proponents of the practice maintain the following health and wellness benefits.

Improved circulation: Increasing blood flow to a particular area promotes healing.

Pain relief: Cupping may be especially helpful in treating muscle tension and spasms.

Relaxation: The effect is quite like that of a massage.

Respiratory help: When cups are placed near the lung area, the process may help break up congestion and phlegm.

Digestive help: By increasing mobility in the abdomen, cupping may help relieve digestive troubles.

Did you know?

Qi (pronounced “chi”) in Chinese medicine is considered your body’s energy or circulating life force.



Methods of cupping

Dry cupping: In dry cupping, the cup is typically placed in one area and remains there for as little as three minutes or as much as 20 or even 30 minutes.

Moving cupping: This method is also known as “sliding” cupping. Oil is applied to the skin, and the cup is continuously glided over a larger area. This is particularly helpful in relieving muscle tightness and is similar to a deep tissue massage.

Needle cupping: In needle cupping, an acupuncture needle is inserted into a specific acupuncture point. Then, a cup is placed over it.

Wet/bleeding cupping: First, a cup is placed to create suction. The practitioner then removes the cup and makes small incisions in the skin, followed by a second cup to draw out a small amount of blood. This is thought to remove toxins.

Flash cupping: The practitioner quickly attaches and removes the cups repeatedly to an area.

Glass vs. plastic cups

The cups used by western practitioners are generally made of glass. Cupping sets that are available for consumer purchase are plastic, typically silicone. Glass and silicone cups are shaped more like bell jars than drinking cups (apart from plastic cups with manual suction).

There are also some “traditional” cups available that are made from bamboo or earthenware.

Heat vs. suction

There are a few techniques of creating the necessary vacuum inside a cupping cup.

A technique that involves heat is known as “fire cupping.” In this method, a cotton pad is soaked in alcohol and lit on fire. A glass cup is placed over it, extinguishing the flame. It is then placed on the skin. As the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum.

Plastic cups do not require fire to create a vacuum. Instead, a suction gun, or pistol-grip hand pump, may be used to create a vacuum. Alternatively, a suction cup method might be used in which suction is manually created by squeezing the closed end of the cup.

An at-home cupping set may use either of these non-heat methods.

"Cupping is first mentioned in an ancient Egyptian medical book, the Ebers Papyrus, dating the practicing to 1, B.C. "



Cupping set features

Biomagnetic needles

Some cupping sets come with removable magnetic points. The points are inserted into the cup and exert magnetic force on acupuncture points. This serves as a nice alternative to the “needling” cupping method.


Cupping sets come with multiple sizes of cups. A small cup may have a inch diameter, whereas an extra-large cup may have a inch diameter. There are different sizes in between these two extremes as well. A larger size is appropriate for a larger surface area, like the back. A smaller size may be used for a smaller area, like the neck.


The largest cupping sets have 24 pieces. The smallest sets come with just four cups. The number of cups you purchase will affect price, as will a few other factors.

Cupping set prices

Keeping in mind that the average cost of a cupping session with a practitioner is $40 to $80, a one-time purchase of a cupping set — even a high-priced set — is a steal.

A professional kit made from high-quality polycarbonate or glass starts at $80 and can cost up to $. There are also professional-grade plastic cupping sets for as low as $60.

For the person looking to try cupping at home, there are plenty of lower-cost options. The best suction-cup style cupping kits made from silicone run as high as $50. For a set with a lower count, you can expect to pay half that price. Cupping sets that come with a suction gun tend to come with a cup count in the teens or twenties. These range in price from $20 to $35.


  • Always clean the skin before cupping.
  • Avoid cupping if you have a skin infection to prevent it from spreading.
  • Excessive body hair can interfere with a cup’s suction. Consider waxing or shaving the area to avoid weakening the suction.
  • Not all cupping sets can be used with the sliding technique and/or with oil. Always check the manufacturer’s instructions before use.
  • If you’re an English speaker without knowledge of Korean and Chinese, be sure the cupping set you purchase comes with an instruction manual in English.


Q. What is the difference between acupuncture and cupping?
Both are methods used in Chinese medicine. Both draw energy (qi) and blood flow from parts of the body, and both dispel stagnation, which is believed to cause illness and disease. However, acupuncture uses needles to improve circulation and energy movement in the body, whereas cupping uses cups to do so (except for needle cupping). Acupuncture needles pierce the skin; most cupping methods do not penetrate the skin. Both, however, use placement along the “meridian lines,” which are an intricate network of energy pathways.

Q. Who is cupping for?
Cupping benefits adults who experience chronic pain, such as neck or back pain. It may also be beneficial for athletes who overwork their muscles, asthmatics and those suffering from the common cold with cough, and people experiencing a myriad of other conditions: headaches, dizziness, anxiety, digestive issues, fatigue, rheumatoid arthritis, and even cellulite. Some report an “emotional” release from the process, or deep relaxation. Cupping is not recommended for pregnant women or children.

Q. Does cupping hurt?
If performed correctly, cupping should not hurt. It has been described as feeling like a “small octopus” is grabbing hold of the skin with its suctioned tentacles. In wet cupping (also known as hijama), the incisions do hurt, but the pain is reportedly tolerable. Though there is no license required for cupping, we strongly recommend going to a licensed acupuncturist (LAc) for wet cupping or fire cupping to reduce the risk of infection or burns.

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Cupping glasses are commonly used along with acupuncture therapy in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Cupping therapy is a form of local suction massage used on the skin to increase blood flow and promote healing.

Suction is created in the Cupping Glasses by using heat or mechanical devices forming an air tight seal. This action pulls in the soft tissue and draws blood into the area and thus is supposed to release tension of soft tissue (for example resulting from deep scars) and muscles.

Cupping massage is commonly used in therapies in sports and alternative therapies and lately has been promoted by athletes (leaving visible signs of red circles  on the skin for a short period of time) in the current  competitions in Rio, Brasil.
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Muscle tenseness, back pain, tiredness. These are all symptoms of eventful times. Take a time-out from your day-to-day routine and enjoy refreshing moments with a BellaBambi Vacuum Massage ("cupping massage"). Or use the BellaBambi for skincare more

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The cupping set comes in an elegant lightweight case, easier to carry and store. Cups are non-breakable and there is a valve on the top. Place the hand pump on top of the cup, apply pressure. To release pressure press the valve. 17 cups in more

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The newly introduced MERIDIUS cupping sets include: 17 acrylic cups in total, 1 hand pistol pump and 1 connecting tube, conveniently stored in a navy blue case, ideal for travelling. The blue silicon valve can be detached from the cup when more

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Cupping glasses are made from heat-resistant borosilicate glass and can be easily cleaned and disinfected (dishwasher, steriliser etc.). These high-quality cupping glasses are made by hand (mouth-blown and hand-shaped). Delivery contents more

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Fire cupping glass set, 6 pcs. 60 mm

Cupping glasses are made from heat-resistant borosilicate glass and can be easily cleaned and disinfected (dishwasher, steriliser etc.). These high-quality cupping glasses are made by hand (mouth-blown and hand-shaped). Delivery contents more

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Cupping glasses are made from heat-resistant borosilicate glass and can be easily cleaned and disinfected (dishwasher, steriliser etc.). These high-quality cupping glasses are made by hand (mouth-blown and hand-shaped). Delivery contents more


What Is Cupping Therapy?

What is cupping?

Cupping is a type of alternative therapy that originated in China. It involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. The suction may facilitate healing with blood flow.

Proponents also claim the suction helps facilitate the flow of “qi” in the body. Qi is a Chinese word meaning life force. A famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong, reportedly first practiced cupping. He lived from A.D. to

Many Taoists believe that cupping helps balance yin and yang, or the negative and positive, within the body. Restoring balance between these two extremes is thought to help with the body’s resistance to pathogens as well as its ability to increase blood flow and reduce pain.

Cupping increases blood circulation to the area where the cups are placed. This may relieve muscle tension, which can improve overall blood flow and promote cell repair. It may also help form new connective tissues and create new blood vessels in the tissue.

People use cupping to complement their care for a host of issues and conditions.

What are the different types of cupping?

Cupping was originally performed using animal horns. Later, the “cups” were made from bamboo and then ceramic. The suction was primarily created through the use of heat. The cups were originally heated with fire and then applied to the skin. As they cooled, the cups drew the skin inside.

Modern cupping is often performed using glass cups that are rounded like balls and open on one end.

There are two main categories of cupping performed today:

  • Dry cupping is a suction-only method.
  • Wet cupping may involve both suction and controlled medicinal bleeding.

Your practitioner, your medical condition, and your preferences will help determine what method is used.

What should I expect during a cupping treatment?

During a cupping treatment, a cup is placed on the skin and then heated or suctioned onto the skin. The cup is often heated with fire using alcohol, herbs, or paper that’s placed directly into the cup. The fire source is removed, and the heated cup is placed with the open side directly on your skin.

Some modern cupping practitioners have shifted to using rubber pumps to create suction versus more traditional heat methods.

When the hot cup is placed on your skin, the air inside the cup cools and creates a vacuum that draws the skin and muscle upward into the cup. Your skin may turn red as the blood vessels respond to the change in pressure.

With dry cupping, the cup is set in place for a set time, usually between 5 and 10 minutes. With wet cupping, cups are usually only in place for a few minutes before the practitioner removes the cup and makes a small incision to draw blood.

After the cups are removed, the practitioner may cover the previously cupped areas with ointment and bandages. This helps prevent infection. Any mild bruising or other marks usually go away within 10 days of the session.

Cupping is sometimes performed along with acupuncture treatments. For best results, you may also want to fast or eat only light meals for two to three hours before your cupping session.

What conditions can cupping treat?

Cupping has been used to treat a wide variety of conditions. It may be particularly effective at easing conditions that create muscle aches and pains.

Since the cups can also be applied to major acupressure points, the practice is possibly effective at treating digestive issues, skin issues, and other conditions commonly treated with acupressure.

A suggests cupping therapy’s healing power may be more than just a placebo effect. The researchers found that cupping therapy may help with the following conditions, among others:

However, the authors acknowledge that most of the studies they reviewed contain a high level of bias. More studies are needed to assess the true effectiveness of cupping.

Side effects

There aren’t many side effects associated with cupping. The side effects you may experience will typically occur during your treatment or immediately after.

You may feel lightheaded or dizzy during your treatment. You may also experience sweating or nausea.

After treatment, the skin around the rim of the cup may become irritated and marked in a circular pattern. You may also have pain at incision sites or feel lightheaded or dizzy shortly after your session.

Infection is always a risk after undergoing cupping therapy. The risk is small and usually avoided if your practitioner follows the right methods for cleaning your skin and controlling infection before and after your session.

Other risks include:

Your practitioner should wear an apron, disposable gloves, and goggles or other eye protection. They should also use clean equipment and have regular vaccines to ensure protection against certain diseases, like hepatitis.

Always research practitioners thoroughly to protect your own safety.

If you experience any of these issues, consult your practitioner. They may offer remedies or steps you can take before your session in order to avoid any discomfort.

Things to keep in mind

Most medical professionals don’t have training or a background in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Your doctor may be cautious or uncomfortable with answering questions related to healing methods like cupping.

Some CAM practitioners may be particularly enthusiastic about their methods, even suggesting you skip over conventional medical treatments advised by your doctor.

But if you do choose to try cupping as part of your treatment plan, discuss your decision with your doctor. Continue with regular doctor visits related to your condition to get the best of both worlds.

Cupping therapy isn’t recommended for everyone. Extra caution should be taken for the following groups:

  • Children. Children under 4 years old shouldn’t receive cupping therapy. Older children should only be treated for very short periods.
  • Seniors. Our skin becomes more fragile as we age. Any medication you may be taking might have an effect as well.
  • Pregnant people. Avoid cupping the abdomen and lower back.
  • Those who are currently menstruating.

Don’t use cupping if you use blood-thinning medication. Also avoid cupping if you have:

  • a sunburn
  • a wound
  • a skin ulcer
  • experienced recent trauma
  • an internal organ disorder

Preparing for your cupping appointment

Cupping is a long-practiced treatment that may help ease the symptoms of both temporary and chronic health conditions.

As with many alternative therapies, keep in mind that there haven’t been extensive studies performed without bias to fully assess its true effectiveness.

If you choose to try cupping, consider using it as a complement to your current doctor visits, not a substitute.

Here are some things to consider before beginning cupping therapy:

  • What conditions does the cupping practitioner specialize in treating?
  • What method of cupping does the practitioner use?
  • Is the facility clean? Does the practitioner implement safety measurements?
  • Does the practitioner have any certifications?
  • Do you have a condition that may benefit from cupping?

Before beginning any alternative therapy, remember to let your doctor know that you’re planning to incorporate it into your treatment plan.


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Product type: Cupping Massage

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How To Do Cupping Therapy

Cupping Therapy Sets - Cupping Massage Therapy Supplies

Cupping therapy is an ancient, holistic method of treating a variety of ailments through enhancing blood flow through the use of suction. Though the exact origin of cupping is debatable, its use has been documented in both early Egyptian and Chinese medical practices. Today cupping therapy is commonly used to decompress and release adhesions, scar tissue, relax muscles in spasm, decrease trigger point pain, lymphatic drainage, decrease tissue changes and inflammation.

Cupping massage therapy is the practice of combining traditional cupping techniques while moving the cups around the affected area. The act of moving the cups over the skin while maintaining suction provides an added level of pain relief and muscle soothing to traditional massage. Cupping massage supplies for at-home use or professional cupping sets are readily available and easy to incorporate to existing massage treatments or self-care routines.


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Cupping therapy

Pseudoscience whereby suction is applied to the skin

Cupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin with the application of heated cups. Its practice mainly occurs in Asia but also in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Latin America.[1][2] As with all alternative medicine, cupping has been characterized as a pseudoscience and its practice as quackery.[3][4]

Cupping practitioners attempt to use cupping therapy for a wide array of medical conditions including fevers, chronic low back pain, poor appetite, indigestion, high blood pressure, acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, anemia, stroke rehabilitation, nasal congestion, infertility, and menstrual period cramping.[1][2]

Despite the numerous ailments for which practitioners claim cupping therapy is useful, there is insufficient evidence it has any health benefits, and there are some risks of harm, especially from wet cupping and fire cupping.[1]Bruising and skin discoloration are among the adverse effects of cupping and are sometimes mistaken for child abuse.[2] In rare instances, the presence of these marks on children has led to legal action against parents who had their children receive cupping therapy.[2]

Scientific evaluation

The American Cancer Society notes that "available scientific evidence does not support claims that cupping has any health benefits" and also that the treatment carries a small risk of burns.[5] A review of literature in determined that "the effectiveness of cupping is currently not well-documented for most conditions", and that systematic reviews showing efficacy for the treatment of pain "were based mostly on poor quality primary studies."[6] This was further supported by a review in which demonstrated that previous evidence supporting cupping has resulted from "unreasonable design and poor research quality".[7] There is a lack of evidence to support the use of cupping therapy for acne.[8] Additionally, cupping is often practiced along with other acupuncture therapies[2][9] and therefore cannot exclusively account for resultant positive benefits. Many reviews suggest that there is insufficient scientific evidence to support the use of cupping techniques to combat relevant diseases and chronic pain.[10] Cupping has been characterized as quackery.[4]

The lack of apparent benefits of cupping treatments are discussed by Simon Singh and Edzard Ernst in their book Trick or Treatment.[11]

As a pseudoscientific detoxification ritual, proponents of cupping falsely claim that it can remove unspecified toxins from the body.[12][13] Proponents also falsely claim that cupping "improves blood flow" to help sore muscles.[14]James Hamblin notes that a bruise caused by cupping "is a blood clot, though, and clotted blood is definitionally not flowing."[15]

Many critics of alternative medicine have spoken out against traditional treatments such as cupping therapy. Harriet Hall and Mark Crislip have characterized cupping as "pseudoscience nonsense", "a celebrity fad", and "gibberish", and observed that there is no evidence that cupping works any better than a placebo.[16][17]PharmacologistDavid Colquhoun writes that cupping is "laughable and utterly implausible."[18] Practicing surgeon David Gorski observes, "it’s all risk for no benefit. It has no place in modern medicine, or at least shouldn’t."[19]


In , the Cambodian Ministry of Health warned that cupping could be a health risk and particularly dangerous for people with high blood pressure or heart problems. According to the NCCIH "Cupping can cause side effects such as persistent skin discoloration, scars, burns, and infections, and may worsen eczema or psoriasis".[20]

Cupping may cause breaks in the capillaries (small blood vessels) in the papillary dermis layer of the skin, resulting in the appearance of petechiae and purpura.[1] These marks are sometimes mistaken for signs of child abuse when cupping is performed on children.[1]

Cupping therapy adverse events can be divided into local and systemic adverse events. The local adverse events may include scar formation, burns, linear bruising or streaks (wet cupping), skin ulcers, undesired darkening of the skin, panniculitis, erythema ab igne, induction of the Koebner phenomenon in susceptible individuals with psoriasis, and pain at the cupping site.[1][2] A theoretical risk of infection exists but there are no reports of this as of [2]


Cupping practitioners use cupping therapy for a wide array of medical conditions including fevers, pain, poor appetite, indigestion, high blood pressure, acne, atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, anemia, stroke rehabilitation, nasal congestion, infertility, and dysmenorrhea.[1] Proponents claim cupping has a therapeutic effect and removes unspecified "toxins", stagnant blood, or "vital energy" when used over acupuncture points with the goal of improving blood circulation.[1][2] Modern suction devices are sometimes used instead of the traditional cups.[2]

While details vary between practitioners, societies, and cultures, the practice consists of drawing tissue into a cap placed on the targeted area by creating a partial vacuum – either by the heating and subsequent cooling of the air in the cup, or via a mechanical pump.[21] The cup is usually left in place for somewhere between five and fifteen minutes.

Cupping therapy types can be classified using four distinct methods of categorization. The first system of categorization relates to "technical types" including: dry, wet, massage, and flash cupping therapy. The second categorization relates to "the power of suction related types" including: light, medium, and strong cupping therapy. The third categorization relates to "the method of suction related types" including: fire, manual suction, and electrical suction cupping therapy. The fourth categorization relates to "materials inside cups" including: herbal products, water, ozone, moxa, needle, and magnetic cupping therapy.[22]

Further categories of cupping were developed later. The fifth relates to area treated including: facial, abdominal, female, male, and orthopedic cupping therapy. The sixth relates to "other cupping types" that include sports and aquatic cupping.[citation needed]

Cups of various materials

Dry cupping

Dry cupping involves the application of a heated cup on the skin of the back, chest, abdomen, or buttocks.[1] The cooling of the air is then thought to create a suction effect. Bamboo and other materials are sometimes used as alternatives to glass cups.[1]

Fire cupping

A person receiving fire cupping

Fire cupping involves soaking a cotton ball in almost pure alcohol. The cotton is clamped by a pair of forceps and lit via match or lighter, and, in one motion, placed into the cup and quickly removed, while the cup is placed on the skin. The fire uses up all the oxygen in the cup which creates a negative pressure inside the cup. The cup is then quickly placed onto the body and the negative pressure "sucks" the skin up. Massage oil may be applied to create a better seal as well as allow the cups to glide over muscle groups (e.g. trapezius, erectors, latissimus dorsi, etc.) in an act called "gliding cupping" or "sliding cupping". Dark circles may appear where the cups were placed because of capillary rupture just under the skin. There are documented cases of burns caused by fire cupping.[23][24]

Wet cupping

Wet cupping is also known as Hijama (Arabic: حجامة&#; lit. "sucking") or medicinal bleeding, where blood is drawn by local suction from a small skin incision.[25]

The first reported usages are found in the Islamic hadith, sayings attributed to or describing the actions of the Islamic prophetMuhammad.[26][27] Hadith from Muhammad al-Bukhari, Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj Nishapuri and Ahmad ibn Hanbal support its recommendation and use by Muhammad.[28] As a result, wet cupping has remained a popular remedy practiced in many parts of the Muslim world.[29]

In Finland, wet cupping has been done at least since the 15th century, and it is done traditionally in saunas. The cupping cups were made of cattle horns with a valve mechanism in it to create a partial vacuum by sucking the air out.[30] Cupping is still practiced in Finland as part of relaxing and/or health regimens.[31]

  • A person receiving wet cupping

  • Blood drawn by wet cupping

Traditional Chinese medicine

Woman receiving fire cupping at a roadside business in Haikou, Hainan, China

In Chinese, cupping is known as "pulling-up jars" (Chinese: 拔罐; pinyin: báguàn). According to traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), cupping is done to dispel stagnation (stagnant blood and lymph), thereby improving qi flow,[32] in order to treat respiratory diseases such as the common cold, pneumonia and bronchitis. Cupping also is used on back, neck, shoulder and other musculoskeletal conditions. Its advocates claim it has other applications as well.[32] Cupping is not advised, in TCM, over skin ulcers or to the abdominal or sacral regions of pregnant women.[33]

Society and culture

Cupping has gained publicity in modern times due to its use by American sport celebrities including National Football League player DeMarcus Ware and Olympians Alexander Naddour, Natalie Coughlin, and Michael Phelps.[34] Medical doctor Brad McKay wrote that Team USA was doing a great disservice to their fans who might "follow their lead", calling cupping an "ancient (but useless) traditional therapy."[35]Steven Novella noted "It is unfortunate that elite athletics, including the Olympics, is such a hot bed for pseudoscience."[36]

There is a description of cupping in George Orwell's essay "How the Poor Die", where he was surprised to find it practiced in a Paris hospital.[37]

Perceived benefits of cupping have often been perpetuated by celebrities and athletes who use these therapeutic interventions in their daily lives. Professional swimmer Michael Phelps received publicity during the Olympics for the purple bruises evident on his back resulting from cupping. He has been known to "do it before every meet he goes to" in order to "speed up recovery".[38] Celebrity endorsements similar to Michael Phelps may create biases in individuals who report the benefits or their experiences with therapies such as cupping.


An illustration from the medical textbook Exercitationes practicae, published in , shows a man undergoing cupping on his buttocks

The origin of cupping is unclear. Iranian traditional medicine uses wet-cupping practices, with the belief that cupping with scarification may eliminate scar tissue, and cupping without scarification would cleanse the body through the organs.[39]

In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (c. BC) used cupping for internal disease and structural problems. The method was highly recommended by Muhammad[27] and hence well-practiced by Muslim scientists who elaborated and developed the method further. Consecutively, this method in its multiple forms spread into medicine throughout Asian and European civilizations. In China, the earliest use of cupping that is recorded is from the famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong (– AD).[40] Cupping was also mentioned in Maimonides' book on health and was used within the Eastern European Jewish community.[41]William Osler recommended its use for pneumonia and acute myelitis in the early twentieth century.[2]

The practice has been used in hospitals in China since the s as a traditional Chinese medicine modality.[42] As of [update] cupping was most popular in China.

See also


  1. ^ abcdefghijVashi, NA; Patzelt, N; Wirya, S; Maymone, MBC; Zancanaro, P; Kundu, RV (July ). "Dermatoses caused by cultural practices: Therapeutic cultural practices". Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 79 (1): 1– doi/j.jaad PMID&#; S2CID&#;
  2. ^ abcdefghijLilly, E; Kundu, RV (April ). "Dermatoses secondary to Asian cultural practices". International Journal of Dermatology. 51 (4): – doi/jx. PMID&#; S2CID&#;
  3. ^Crislip, Mark (24 December ). "Acupuncture Odds and Ends". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 8 August
  4. ^ abHall, Harriet (21 August ). "Quackery and Mumbo-Jumbo in the U.S. Military". Slate.
  5. ^Russell J; Rovere A, eds. (). "Cupping". American Cancer Society Complete Guide to Complementary and Alternative Cancer Therapies (2nd&#;ed.). American Cancer Society. pp.&#;– ISBN&#;.
  6. ^Lee, MS; Kim, JI; Ernst, E (March ). "Is cupping an effective treatment? An overview of systematic reviews". Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies. 4 (1): 1–4. doi/s(11) PMID&#;
  7. ^Chen, B; Li, MY; Liu, PD; Guo, Y; Chen, ZL (July ). "Alternative medicine: an update on cupping therapy". QJM&#;: Monthly Journal of the Association of Physicians. (7): – doi/qjmed/hcu PMID&#;
  8. ^Cao H, Yang G, Wang Y, Liu JP, Smith CA, Luo H, Liu Y (January ). "Complementary therapies for acne vulgaris". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Systematic Review & Meta-Analysis). 1: CD doi/CDpub2. PMC&#; PMID&#;
  9. ^Kim, J. I., Lee, M. S., Lee, D. H., Boddy, K., & Ernst, E. (). Cupping for treating pain: a systematic review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine,
  10. ^Cao, H., Li, X., & Liu, J. (). An updated review of the efficacy of cupping therapy. PLOS ONE, 7(2).
  11. ^Singh, Simon; Ernst, Edzard (). Trick or Treatment. Transworld Publishers. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  12. ^Gorski, David (23 May ). "Fashionably toxic". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 12 May
  13. ^Colquhoun, David (10 August ). "Cupping: bruises for the gullible, and other myths in sport". DC's Improbable Science. Retrieved 12 May
  14. ^Salzberg, Steven (13 May ). "The Ridiculous And Possibly Harmful Practice Of Cupping". Forbes. Retrieved 12 May
  15. ^Hamblin, James (9 August ). "Please, Michael Phelps, Stop Cupping". The Atlantic. Retrieved 12 May
  16. ^Crislip, Mark (24 December ). "Acupuncture Odds and Ends". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 8 August
  17. ^Hall, Harriet (31 July ). "Therapy or Injury? Your Tax Dollars at Work". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 8 August
  18. ^Online Editors (8 August ). "Revealed – Why some Olympic athletes have those little red marks on them". Irish Independent.
  19. ^Gorski, David (July 1, ). "What's the harm? Cupping edition". Respectful Insolence. Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 8 August
  20. ^"Cupping". NCCIH. 8 November
  21. ^"What is cupping therapy". WebMD. Retrieved 15 August
  22. ^Shaban, Tamer (). Cupping Therapy Encyclopedia. CreateSpace. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  23. ^Iblher, N.; Stark, B. (). "Cupping treatment and associated burn risk: a plastic surgeon's perspective". J Burn Care Res. 28 (2): – doi/BCR.0BEA PMID&#;
  24. ^Sagi, A.; Ben-Meir, P.; Bibi, C. (Aug ). "Burn hazard from cupping--an ancient universal medication still in practice". Burns Incl Therm Inj. 14 (4): – doi/(88) PMID&#;
  25. ^Albinali, Hajar (June ). "Traditional Medicine Among Gulf Arabs Part II – Blood Letting". Heart Views. 5 (2): 74– Archived from the original on 11 September
  26. ^Rippin, Andrew; Knappert, Jan (). Textual Sources for the Study of Islam. Manchester University Press. p.&#; ISBN&#;.
  27. ^ abQayyim Al-Jauziyah (). Abdullah, Abdul Rahman (formerly Raymond J. Manderola) (ed.). Healing with the Medicine of the Prophet. ISBN&#;.
  28. ^Sunan Abu Dawood, , , Sahih Muslim, , , Sahih al-Bukhari, ,
  29. ^El-Wakil, Ahmed (9 December ). "Observations of the popularity and religious significance of blood-cupping (al-ḥijāma) as an Islamic medicine". Contemporary Islamic Studies. Hamad bin Khalifa University Press. 2. doi/cis
  30. ^Kaups, Matti (). "A Finish Savusauna in Minnesota"(PDF). Minnesota History. Minnesota Historical Society (Spring): 11–
  31. ^"a cupping session – a recently revived, if archaic procedure, during which a therapist uses a cupping hatchet to make small cuts in your back and places glass cups fitted with bulb syringes over the cuts to draw out 'bad blood' and release 'feel-good' endorphins. Cupping is considered perfectly safe and aficionados say the procedure energizes them, but it’s definitely not for germophobes or the squeamish."&#;: From "Finland's magnificent obsession", Travelsquire
  32. ^ abState Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, Advanced Textbook on Traditional Chinese Medicine and Pharmacology, Volume IV, New World Press, Beijing
  33. ^Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion (Revised Edition), Xingnong, Foreign Languages Press, Beijing, China, , p.
  34. ^Reynolds, Gretchen; Crouse, Karen (August 8, ). "What Are the Purple Dots on Michael Phelps? Cupping Has an Olympic Moment". Well. The New York Times. Retrieved 8 August
  35. ^McKay, Brad (August 9, ). "Why Team USA's use of cupping therapy really sucks". — Australia's Leading News Site. Retrieved 9 August
  36. ^Novella, Steven (August 10, ). "Cupping – Olympic Pseudoscience". Science Based Medicine.
  37. ^Orwell, George (November ). "How the Poor Die". Now. Retrieved 10 August
  38. ^Reynolds, Gretchen; Crouse, Karen (8 August ). "What Are the Purple Dots on Michael Phelps? Cupping Has an Olympic Moment". The New York Times. New York Times. Retrieved 22 March
  39. ^Nimrouzi M; Mahbodi A; Jaladat AM; Sadeghfard A; Zarshenas MM (). "Hijama in traditional Persian medicine: risks and benefits". J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 19 (2): – doi/ PMID&#; S2CID&#;
  40. ^Dharmananda, Subhuti. "Cupping". Institute for Traditional Medicine. Retrieved
  41. ^Ingall, Marjorie (). "Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Cupping&#;– and Some Stuff You Probably Didn't". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved
  42. ^Cao, H; Li, X; Liu, J (). "An updated review of the efficacy of cupping therapy". PLOS ONE. 7 (2): e BibcodePLoSOC. doi/journal.pone PMC&#; PMID&#;

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