Last updated: December 21, 2023

What Does Cupping Mean?

Cupping is an ancient Chinese alternative therapy which involves placing cups on the skin and then creating a vacuum through heat or suction to draw up the tissue and blood. Proponents believe that the increased blood speeds healing.

The few scientific studies done on cupping have noted the increased blood flow, yet have not been able to support the claims of numerous health benefits. But, according to a review in the journal “Public Library of Science One,” cupping may be an effective short-term treatment for chronic neck and low-back pain.


Yogapedia Explains Cupping

Cupping has been used alone to treat a wide range of symptoms, but, it also is used in conjunction with Western medicine or other alternative therapies such as acupuncture, massage and even yoga therapy. While considered basically safe, cupping may result in soreness, bruising, burns and skin infections, according to the U.S.’s National Institutes of Health. Olympic swimmers often use cupping as therapy to reduce soreness after practice, this can be heavily seen during Televised Olympic Games where swimmers appear with large, circular, reddish marks on areas of their upper bodies; these are cupping marks.

In addition to reducing pain, cupping is thought by proponents to have the following benefits:

  • Promoting relaxation and reducing stress
  • Improving skin health
  • Speeding healing from respiratory illnesses and colds
  • Improving digestion
  • Easing allergy symptoms

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