During a cupping session, a practitioner places
round cups directly on your skin. The cup is either first heated with fire or
manually pumped to create a suction. The cups are then left on your skin for
How it works
It is believed that the suction created by the cup encourages blood
flow—and this increased circulation may promote healing and reduce pain.
"Many of my patients report immediate benefits when session done.
The primary side effects of cupping are bruising and skin irritation.
Both should heal on their own in 7-10 days. There is also a small risk of
infection. After a session, the therapist may send you home with an antibiotic
ointment and bandage to help reduce this risk.
There are different methods of cupping, including:
During both types of cupping, your therapist will put a flammable
substance such as alcohol, herbs, or paper in a cup and set it on fire. As the
fire goes out, he puts the cup upside down on your skin.
As the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum. This causes
your skin to rise and redden as your blood vessels
expand. The cup is generally left in place for up to 3 minutes.
A more modern version of cupping uses a rubber pump instead of fire
to create the vacuum inside the cup. Sometimes therapists use silicone cups,
which they can move from place to place on your skin for a massage-like
Wet cupping creates a mild suction by leaving a cup in place for
about 3 minutes. The therapist then removes the cup and uses a small scalpel to
make light, tiny cuts on your skin. Next, he or she does a second suction to
draw out a small quantity of blood.
You might get 3-5 cups in your first session. Or you might just try
one to see how it goes. It’s rare to get more than 5-7 cups, the British
Cupping Society notes.
Afterward, you may get an antibiotic ointment and bandage to prevent
infection. Your skin should look normal again within 10 days.
Cupping therapy supporters believe that wet cupping removes harmful
substances and toxins from the body to promote healing. But that’s not proven.
Some people also get “needle cupping,” in which the therapist first
inserts acupuncture needles
and then puts cups over them.