A Modern Overview Of Chinese Cupping Therapy

Recently, there is growing evidence of the potential benefits of Chinese cupping therapy in Orlando for the treatment of pain-related infirmities. This article provides an overview of the practice of cupping therapy. In addition, this article recommends a new categorization of cupping therapy sets, a current categorization of the forms of cupping therapy types, and an updated categorization of cupping therapy side effects.

Origin and Short History of Chinese Cupping Therapy

An ancient art of healing, cupping therapy is administered by placing cups onto preselected skin acupuncture points (acupoints) and generating a subatmospheric pressure, either by suction or heat.

The Eber’s papyrus is the oldest medical document (1550 BC) to first mention cupping therapy. Cupping is a component of several age-old healing systems, such as Oriental, Tibetan, traditional Korean, Unani, and Chinese medicine. Hippocrates, the father of medicine, was able to amass extensive volumes of the use and description of this healing technique. He described a couple of different cups: one with a wide opening and another with a narrow opening.

The first type was used to prevent the spread of pain while the other treated deep build-up of fluids. In Islamic and Arab countries, cupping therapy is a popular historical therapy. It was promoted by both Islamic and Arabic doctors like Ibn Sina, Al-Zahrawi,and Abu Bakr Al-Razibetween the fourteenth and seventeenth. Al-Zahrawi illustrated cupping tools and then described cupping sites without diagrams. The practice spread throughout Europe and, eventually, during the Renaissance. During this period, cupping was a specific way to treat arthritis and gout in Italy.

Effects and Functions of Cupping Therapy

No one can explain how cupping therapy really works until now. The main accepted theory was the effects were of subatmospheric pressure suction stimulating blood circulation, which enhances immunity.

Cupping therapy’s observed effects include the facilitation of the flow of blood in the skin, regulation of the immune system at the cellular level, decrease of inflammation and increase of pain thresholds, and modification of the biomechanical properties of the skin.

There’s no apparent identified function that can be observed about this therapy. Further research in this therapy is highly recommended.

Categorization of the different form of cupping therapies

Cupping therapy is commonly divided into wet and dry cupping. In 2013, another classification of this method was developed, which grouped cupping into five categories. In 2016, this classification was updated. There were six categories in the updated version. “Technical types” is the first category,and this includes flash, massage, wet, and dry cupping. The “power of suction” is the second category,and it included strong, medium, and light cupping. The “method of suction,” which includes electrical vacuum,manual and fire cupping is the third category. The fourth category that includes magnetic, needle, moxibustion, ozone, water, and herbal cupping,is called the “materials inside cups.” The fifth category,which includes orthopedic, male, female, abdominal, and facial cupping,is called“area treated.” The “other cupping types” is the sixth category and includes aquatic, cosmetic, and sports cupping.

A new classification update of cupping therapy that merges five and six categories into one main category, which can be called “condition and area treated,”is recommended. The fourth category’s title, “materials inside cups,” was changed to “added therapy types,”and aquatic cupping was added to this category. This update is designed to provide a more accurate classification of the different forms of cupping therapy.

Categorization of the forms of cupping therapy

A typical set of cupping therapy should comprise of six or more cups of different sizes and a form of suction. Sets of cupping therapy can be categorized into three main groups: the first group is “cupping sets affiliated with the kinds of cups,” which includes silicone, metal, bamboo, rubber, glass, and plastic cupping sets. The second group is “cupping sets affiliated with the modes of suction,” which includes self-suction, automatic, and manual cupping sets. The third group is “cupping sets affiliated with uses” and includes massage, male, female, and facial massage cupping sets.


Mostly used for therapeutic, preventive and health promotion purposes, cupping therapy has proven benefits for the treatment of asthma, rheumatoid arthritis,diabetes mellitus, hypertension/high blood pressure,carpal tunnel syndrome, brachialgia,facial paralysis,knee pain, migraines and headaches, shoulder and neck pain, and lower-back pain. These conditions can be grouped into systematic diseases (rheumatoid arthritis,hypertension/high blood pressure, and diabetes mellitus) and localized diseases (knee pain, lower-back pain, and neck pain).

The treatment area used for this therapy is based on the condition to be treated. The most frequent area of application is the back, followed by the chest, stomach, legs, and buttocks. The face and other body parts are sometimes used in cupping.


Cupping in general is not recommended on areas where varicose veins,lymph nodes, eyes,body orifices, skin lesion, skin inflammation, nerves, arteries, and veins are located. The procedure is also contraindicated on sites of deep-vein thrombosis, bone fractures, and open wounds.

Contraindications to the therapy can be grouped into relative and absolute contraindications. Until we have sufficient information on the safety of cupping therapy. It is completely contraindicated in people suffering from organ failure (heart failure, hepatic failure, and renal failure) and cancer. It is also a hundred percent contraindicated in patients suffering from hemophilia or similar conditions and those using a pacemaker. Contraindications to relative cupping therapy include patient’s refusal of the procedure, acute infection, medical emergencies, those using anticoagulants, recent blood donors, heart disease and other severe chronic diseases, pregnancy, those who recently underwent cupping therapy,
puerperium,anemia, and menstruation.

Side Effects

Relatively speaking, cupping is a safe treatment. Its side effects aren’t rare but aren’t common either. Most side effects are light to moderate in degree.

Most side effects associated with cupping therapy include vasovagal attack; scarring, followed by burns;hyperpigmentation; headache; insomnia; pruritus;skin infection; dizziness; formation of abscess; tiredness;pain over the site of treatment; muscle tension; small hematoma; anemia; bullae formation; and nausea.

Control of Infection

Heeding infection control protocols is an important part to the process of preventing the spread of infections related to cupping therapy. One important measure of any infection control program is the washing of hands. Wearing protective gears such as gowns, protective eyewear, masks, and gloves is important. Skin disinfection of before cupping using hospital-grade solutions or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration is extremely important. Using plastic disposable bed covers or sterilization of the beds of patients should be done after treatment of each patient. Following medical disposal guidelines and waste segregation is crucial. Using disposable surgical blades, vacuum pumps, and cups is mandatory. Try using a secondary disposable vessel for skin disinfectants/lubricants used in one patient before disposal. Use on another patient is banned.


To summarize, cupping therapy is an age-old complementary and traditional medicine technique. There’s more and more proof of its potential benefits for the treatment of pain-related conditions and certain illnesses. Following infection-control protocols is an extremely vital aspect to the practice of cupping therapy. We recommend a new categorization of sets of cupping therapy, a new categorization of the side effects of cupping therapy, and a new categorization of the different forms of cupping therapies.

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