Cupping therapy

Cupping therapy or cupping treatment. Therapeutic methods used in traditional Chinese medicine whereby a suction cup is placed on the surface of the skin to cause local congestion by removing the air from the cup by introducing heat inside with an igniscent material. This method has the function of heating and promoting the free circulation of  and blood in the canal, reducing swelling and pain, dispersing cold and humidity.


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  • 1 Origin and history
  • 2 Types of suction cups
  • 3 Use
  • 4 Results and precautions
  • 5 References
  • 6 Source

Origin and history

Cupping therapy has a long history in China dating back to at least the Han Dynasty . The applications of this therapeutic method appear for the first time described during the Jin dynasty (265-420).

Arab medicine uses them for thousands of years with records of countless diseases treated, they called them ” Hijhama “. They even used them on certain days of the month, respecting the lunar cycles to obtain better therapeutic effects. The Egyptians also used it and left a written record, just as Hippocrates and Galen were defenders of its many benefits.

In Europe and America, doctors began to use it at the beginning of the 19th century and since then what observation had already shown has been clinically confirmed: the application of cupping brings numerous health benefits.

Types of suction cups

There is a wide variety of suction cups, the modern ones are made of plastic with a suction pump, either magnetic or with a rubber bulb, they are very practical, but the traditional ones are more effective since the heat also helps to open the pores of the skin. They are made of ceramic or clay, but the most used are the following:

  • Bamboo suction cup: a 3-5 cm bamboo trunk is sectioned. in diameter and 6-8 or 8-10 cm. in length forming a cylinder. One end is used as a bottom and the other as an opening. The advantage of this type of suction cup is its lightness.
  • Glass suction cup: the mouth of the suction cup is small but the body is wide, it is transparent, so it is possible to see the congestion that forms on the skin.

Suction cups can be substituted for cups, which is why this technique is sometimes referred to as “Chinese cup therapy.”


To heat the suction cup, a cotton pad previously soaked in alcohol must be lit, held with tweezers and inserted inside it, turning it over to later extract it and place the suction cup on the skin; the combustion of oxygen creates an air vacuum inside the suction cup that, when placed on the skin, causes it to stick to it, to suck it up. Once the suction cup is placed on the skin, it is left for approximately ten minutes, when the skin begins to be congested with a violet color due to the stasis caused, the suction cup is removed from the skin by holding it with one hand and pressing the skin of the around to make the void.

This technique is indicated to treat wind-damp arthritis, nerve paralysis, gastrointestinal and pulmonary diseases. The suction cups can be applied in different ways: they can be retained or fixed, they can be quickly removed and put on, they can move once applied, they can be shaken, turned …

Results and precautions

The therapy has very wide applications, both in diseases of internal medicine, such as those of the nervous or locomotor system, among others. Cough, cold, asthma, cellulite, dysmenorrhea, facial paralysis, numbness of the limbs, snake bites …, etc. In summary, we could say that they always go well when we want to eliminate toxins from a specific area; divert blood to another area; contribute blood or nutrients to another; etc.

This therapy should not be applied with skin ulcers, high fever or convulsions, allergies or edema, nor in the abdomen or lumbosacral region of the pregnant woman. If a large congestion has been caused on the skin and is uncomfortable, it can be pricked with a sterile needle to cause bleeding.

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