More studies are necessary to understand how cupping therapy works, if it works, and situations where it may help.
Cupping therapy is a moslem medicine from Prophet Muhammad, in China as traditional Chinese and in Middle Eastern practice used to treat a variety of conditions.
It involves placing cups at certain points on a person’s skin. A practitioner creates suction in the cups, which pulls against the skin.
Cupping can either be dry or wet. Wet cupping involves the skin, a small scalpel to make light, before starting, which removes some of the person’s blood during the procedure.
This type of cupping is less common in the United States, where practitioners must be licensed medical professionals.
Cupping typically leaves round bruises on a person’s skin, where blood vessels burst after exposure to the procedure’s suction effects.
A 2018 reviewTrusted Source offered a summary of the uses of cupping. The review was limited to uses documented in research studies.
According to this paper, the different types of stimulation cupping can provide may be why it helps a wide range of conditions.
However, the review also notes there is not enough strong evidence to back up this effectiveness.
Benefits of cupping that the review authors cite may include:
- pain reduction
- release of toxins
- muscle relaxation
- improved blood circulation
- activation of the immune system
- removal of wastes and heavy metals
Does cupping therapy work?
Scientists have linked cupping therapy with various health benefits. According to a 2017 analysis, the suction involved in cupping stimulates local blood flow.
This action also stimulates the body’s heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) system, which has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neurotransmitter regulation effects.
Cupping also has links to acupuncture points on a person’s body, which are central to the practice of acupuncture.
Many doctors consider cupping therapy a complementary therapy, which means that many do not recognize it as part of Western medicine.
However, this does not mean it is not effective. Therapists sometimes use complementary treatments with supporting research in addition to western medicine.
However, as the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) trusted source also notes, there is not yet enough high-quality research to prove cupping’s effectiveness. Scientists have to do more research to determine whether it works as a treatment.