Have you Heard of Cupping Therapy?

For over 3,000 years, cupping, a practice in Persian traditional medicine, has thrived as a means of purification. The ancient therapy has continued to gain popularity in the US with leading athletes and Olympians engaging in it. It provides relief for sore muscles, inflammation and other injuries experienced in competitive sports and everyday activities.

What Is Cupping?

This treatment involves a therapist putting special cups on your body which create suction, they literary pinch and pull your skin. The cups are made of bamboo, silicone, earth, or glass. The therapy was used by ancient cultures in the Middle East, the Orient, and Egypt as far back as 1600 B.C.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the belief holds that cupping benefits qi flow by stopping stagnation of the lymph and blood. This leads to cure of respiratory diseases and musculoskeletal problems.
The therapy has existed in saunas in Finland since the 15th century and is now used as a form of alternative medicine. It also has a religious significance in the Muslim community following its approval in the Hadith Al-Hijama.


Some ancient cups were made of cattle horns and had valves to suck out the air. Other materials for making cupping cups included bronze and bamboo, and the cups were bells and balls of varying sizes.

Types of Cupping

The methods involved in this practice fall under wet cupping (bleeding), dry cupping, and fire cupping. For any cupping technique, the therapist must create suction on the skin using a cup. The process involves heating the air in the cup and placing the cup on the skin immediately.
As the cup cools, the air in the cup contracts and sucks in some of your skin into the cup. Sometimes, healers combine acupuncture with this technique. The cups are placed on the 12 body meridians. The therapy is believed to have an effect on tissues, body organs, arteries, veins and muscles up to about four inches under the skin.

Wet Cupping

The process of wet cupping involves creating mild suction using a pump and a cup. The area remains under the cup for about four minutes before the removal of the cup. The therapist makes small incisions with a cupping scalpel on the raised area after which a second suction follows.
In the cutting method, Al Hijama advocates for the scrapping of the skin while Chinese techniques use a three-pronged needle, scalpels, or lancets. The second cupping carefully draws out a little blood hence the name medicinal bleeding. Some people need anesthesia before the procedure.

Dry Cupping

Dry cupping involves achieving the suction result with no bleeding or cutting. Although this type does not cause pain, sometimes blisters and dark circles may form, and they may cause discomfort for several days before the swelling subsides. Massage or hydration hastens recovery from the process.

Fire Cupping Therapy

Here, a cotton ball soaked in 99% alcohol is held with a pair of forceps and set ablaze. The cotton ball, while alight, is placed in the cup and removed quickly, and the cup is placed on the skin. The contraction of the air in the cup as it cools completes the sucking action.
Massage oil applied on the skin helps the cup to suction better and to move over the various areas – the moving cupping process. Sometimes the sucking of the skin will cause capillaries under the skin to rupture, and this causes the dark circles characteristic of the treatment.

Cupping Benefits

If you are open to new health and wellness experiences, you will love the benefits of cupping. Cupping treats the following conditions:

  • Pain
  • Stress
  • Poor blood flow
  • Gynecological conditions and infertility
  • Rheumatic diseases such as fibromyalgia
  • Migraines
  • High blood pressure
  • Varicose veins
  • Bronchial congestion
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Cellulite, wrinkles, stretch marks
  • Menopausal problems
  • Wet cupping removes toxins from the body
  • Cupping treats blood disorders such as hemophilia and anemia
  • It could help with herpes zoster
  • It helps clear acne and eczema
  • Respiratory issues
  • Other areas of coagulated energy anywhere in the body

Is Cupping Safe?

In the alternative medicine world, this therapy is far from an ancient art. Technology has introduced better and safer cupping sets and hygienic procedures. These, and trained therapists, make cupping a worthwhile option in improving health and managing illnesses and chronic ailments.
However, worries abound on the injuries, burns, and infections caused by the treatment. Risks only arise if an unqualified or inexperienced person performs the therapy. Fire cupping sometimes causes burns. It’s possible to perform cupping on yourself, but that’s not encouraged if you aren’t conversant with it.


Additionally, modern clinics and spas use sterilized equipment to avoid infections. It’s imperative that the therapist be in good health too to avoid infecting patients, especially in the more sensitive wet cupping process. You also need to observe instructions on care of the wounds from the cupping and use prescribed medication to avoid infections.

A good therapist should establish that you do not suffer from any condition that could be aggravated by cupping or make cupping risky for you. Some modern therapists use a rubber pump in place of fire to create a vacuum inside the cup. The use of silicone cups provides a deep tissue massage effect as they move to different places on your skin.

When to Avoid Cupping

Unless your doctor approves, cupping is contraindicated in the following situations:

  • Pregnancy
  • Renal failure
  • Severe edema
  • Blood disorders like leukemia
  • Hernia
  • Fractures
  • Cancer
  • Ruptured, inflamed, or ulcerated skin
  • Acute eczema and psoriasis

Finding the Best Cupping Therapist

Often, fire cupping therapy and other similar therapeutic procedures are used alongside other forms of treatment. If you want to try out cupping, give answers to the following questions in order to find the right practitioner:

  • What is the experience of the practitioner in using cupping?
  • Are you fit enough for cupping?
  • Has the practitioner undertaken training and certification?
  • Is any treatment you are receiving sufficient for your condition?
  • What conditions does the practitioner recommend cupping for?

Before you consider cupping in any form do your homework and learn even more about it. Prepare as many questions as you can think of for the practitioner that you are considering to be sure that they’re completely qualified.
This can be a powerful modality when utilized by someone who is very experienced with how to do it and what outcomes are to be expected.

Author: Esateys Stuchiner

Esateys (pronounced Ee sáh teez) is an International Life Transformational Speaker, Author, Master Facilitator, Life Coach and Expert in the Human condition. She is a Nationally and Board Certified Nurse Practitioner. For over 30 years, she has practiced, taught and lectured extensively in the allopathic and alternative medicine field.

Esateys is known for her groundbreaking work in the areas of personal empowerment and health restoration using mindset and inner connection as the catalyst for all change.

Esateys describes herself as the ‘Architect of the New You’ and has dedicated her life and professional career to helping her clients create “New Beginnings” by facilitating self empowerment, economic freedom and restored health.

For more information, go to esateys.com.

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