What Is Cupping Therapy? Uses, Benefits, Side Effects

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Cupping therapy is one of the oldest and most effective method of releasing the toxins from body tissue and organs. It is also known as vacuum cupping, hijama cupping, horn treatment etc. It is a practice in which the therapist puts special cups on the skin to create suction. This causes the tissue beneath the cup to be drawn up and swell causing increase in blood flow to affected area. Enhanced blood flow under the cups draws impurities and toxins away from the nearby tissues and organs towards the surface for elimination.

Cupping Therapy

Different Types Of Cupping

Dry cupping

Wet cupping / Hijama

Oil cupping / Sliding cupping

Fire cupping

Horn cupping / Raktamokashan by shrung

Different Types Of Cups

  • Horn / suction cups
  • Glass / fire glass cups
  • Plastic / hijama cups
  • Bamboo / wooden cups
  • Silicone / facial cups
  • Nabhi pump


Cupping therapy is indicated for both healthy patients (anti ageing treatment, rejuvenation purpose) and those suffering from ailments. Localized ailments that benefit from cupping therapy include a headache, lower back pain, neck pain, and knee pain. Systemic illnesses that have seen benefits with cupping therapy include hypertension, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus, mental disorders, heart disease, hypertension, infections. It can be used to treat skin diseases, respiratory, musculoskeletal, digestive, reproductive, and allergic conditions.


  • Excessive dry or cracked skin
  • Open wound or ulcer
  • Fractured bone
  • Dislocated joint
  • Bleeding disorders
  • Severe anaemia
  • Muscle dystrophy
  • Patients with fear of blood or bleeding, empty stomach, below 7 years of age (for wet cupping)
  • Below 2 years of age for dry cupping
  • Abcess
  • Excessive swelling


  • Cupping helps to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • Improves blood flow.
  • Used for relaxation, well being and deep tissue massage.
  • It is safe, non invasive and inexpensive treatment.
  • Rejuvenation of body organs.
  • Facilitates healing process and strengthens immune system.

Used to treat:

  • Blood disorders such as anemia and hemophilia
  • Rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • Gynecological disorders
  • Skin problems: eczema and acne
  • High blood pressure
  • Migraines, Anxiety and depression
  • Varicose veins


  • Skin: Improved metabolism in skin tissue, better functioning of sebaceous and sweat glands, improved healing and improved skin resistance.
  • Muscles: Stimulates blood flow and lymphatic drainage.
  • Joints: Increased blood flow and secretion of synovial fluid.
  • Digestive system: Increased peristalsis and secretion of digestive fluids, better digestion and excretion.
  • Blood: Improved blood circulation, improved functioning of RBC and WBC.
  • Nervous System: Stimulates sensory nerves of skin, Improves ANS.

Side Effects

Cupping is a low-risk therapy. The side effects will typically occur during your treatment or immediately after. Lightheadedness or dizziness, sweating or nausea may be experienced.

After treatment, the skin around the rim of the cup may become irritated and marked in a circular pattern. There may be risk of Infection after undergoing cupping therapy and it can be avoided if practitioner follows the right methods for cleaning skin and controlling infection before and after the session.

Pre Investigations For Wet Cupping Or Blood Lenting

Must: Haemogram, BT, CT, BSL.

Who Can Perform Cupping Therapy?

Cupping is easy, very safe modality to practice. It is completely unregulated, and therefore it can be performed by anyone. If it is practiced within a regulated health practice, it must adhere to the contraindications and legislation indicated within the scope of practice. If the therapist/practitioner don't belong to a college or association, or not sure, the therapy cannot be performed until satisfactory response is found. If therapist/practitioner have not had training in a modality, or are not taking extra training to treat certain conditions, then precaution must be taken.

Procedure / Use Of Cupping In Physiotherapy

A Physiotherapist utilizes a rubber pump to create a vacuum and this causes the skin to rise. The blood vessels will expand and is used to create a massage effect.

The sites are selected according to the treated ailment. The cups are commonly placed on areas with abundant muscles. The back is the most common site of application, followed by the chest, abdomen, buttocks, and legs. Other areas, such as the face, may also be treated by cupping. According to research studies, it is recommended that cups should be on the skin for no more than 5-10 minutes.The residual marks left from cupping disappear in 1-10 days.


Cupping helps to increase the blood flow to sore areas in muscles.
It provides necessary nutrients to the area being treated and promotes healing.
Cupping can provide pain relief and help ease the symptoms of many common disorders of the bones and muscles. It does this by exciting small nerves inside muscles so that they release pain-killing chemicals.
Cupping Therapy can be very relaxing and help to reduce muscular restrictions, scars and adhesions, to decrease swelling, increase range of motion.

Pre and post procedure

  • Proper counselling should be done to the patient about the procedure and about post treatment marks or scars.
  • Take consent if required.
  • Surface should be cleaned or disinfected before cupping.
  • Use new sterile disposable needle or surgical blade and disposable cups for wet cupping.
  • Check for cracks, wound and raised local temperature.
  • Check for sensitive skin.
  • After the procedure, apply moisturizer or antiseptic cream to prevent any possible infection.
  • After hijama cupping, dressing must be done.

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