Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine found in the ancient civilization of the eastern and western world.  ((Qureshi, N. A., Ali, G. I., Abushanab, T. S., El-Olemy, A. T., Alqaed, M. S., El-Subai, I. S., & Al-Bedah, A. (2017). History of cupping (Hijama): a narrative review of literature. Journal of integrative medicine15(3), 172–181. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2095-4964(17)60339-X)) Nowadays, it has been used in several parts of the world including, China, the Middle East, and even here in Canada.

Cupping therapy is performed using heated or suction cups to selected skin points and creates subatmospheric pressure. ((Aboushanab, T. S., & AlSanad, S. (2018). Cupping Therapy: An Overview from a Modern Medicine Perspective. Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, 11(3), 83–87. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jams.2018.02.001))

Cupping therapy has become the talk of the town during the 2016 Rio Olympics when Michael Phelps was seen with signature cupping marks on his body.  ((What Is Cupping? Here’s What You Need to Know. (n.d.). Time. https://time.com/4443105/cupping-rio-olympics-michael-phelps/))

To discover more about how cupping therapy works, you can check here.

But, what are the benefits of cupping therapy? Let’s find out!

What does Research Show About the Benefits of Cupping Therapy?

What are the Benefits of Cupping Therapy?

Cupping Therapy as a Treatment for Herpes Zoster

In a 2010 systematic review of randomized controlled trials, wet cupping appears to be an effective treatment of herpes zoster.  ((Cao, H., Zhu, C., & Liu, J. (2010). Wet cupping therapy for the treatment of herpes zoster: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials. Alternative therapies in health and medicine16(6), 48–54.))

A 2012 review also showed that cupping has a potential effect in the treatment of herpes zoster and other conditions. ((Cao, H., Li, X., & Liu, J. (2012). An Updated Review of the Efficacy of Cupping Therapy. PLoS ONE, 7(2), e31793. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031793))

However, those reviews suggested that large, rigorous designed trials are needed.

Cupping Therapy for Pain Management

A 2011 systematic review shows that cupping provided some suggestive evidence for its effectiveness in pain management.  ((Kim, J. I., Lee, M. S., Lee, D. H., Boddy, K., & Ernst, E. (2011). Cupping for treating pain: a systematic review. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM, 2011, 467014. https://doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nep035))

However, the review shows that it is still needed for further studies.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences suggested that there is a potential positive short-term effect of cupping therapy on pain reduction compared with no treatment, heat therapy, usual care, or use of conventional drugs. ((Cao, H., Li, X., Yan, X., Wang, N. S., Bensoussan, A., & Liu, J. (2014). Cupping therapy for acute and chronic pain management: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences, 1(1), 49–61. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcms.2014.11.003))

For Back Pain

A 2018 systematic review and meta-analysis shows that cupping therapy is a promising method that can help for treatment of chronic back pain in adults. ((Moura, C. C., Chaves, É., Cardoso, A., Nogueira, D. A., Corrêa, H. P., & Chianca, T. (2018). Cupping therapy and chronic back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis. Revista latino-americana de enfermagem, 26, e3094. https://doi.org/10.1590/1518-8345.2888.3094))

However, the review suggested the need to establish standardized application protocols.

For Neck Pain

Moreover, a 2018 study published in BMJ Open showed that cupping therapy was found to reduce neck pain compared to no treatment or invention. The review also showed that cupping therapy has significant improvement in quality of life and varies depending on the type of control group. ((Kim, S., Lee, S. H., Kim, M. R., Kim, E. J., Hwang, D. S., Lee, J., Shin, J. S., Ha, I. H., & Lee, Y. J. (2018). Is cupping therapy effective in patients with neck pain? A systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ open, 8(11), e021070. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2017-021070))

However, again the researchers suggested the need for a better quality of studies to determine the effectiveness of cupping therapy.

Cupping Therapy on Sports Recovery

A 2017 systematic review of randomized controlled trials about the effects of cupping therapy in amateur and professional athletes showed an increasing number of use of cupping therapy among athletes as part of their recovery practices. ((Bridgett, R., Klose, P., Duffield, R., Mydock, S., & Lauche, R. (2018). Effects of Cupping Therapy in Amateur and Professional Athletes: Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 24(3), 208–219. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2017.0191))

However, the researchers suggested further study to create a more conclusive judgment on the efficacy of cupping therapy.

What Conditions can Cupping Therapy Treat?

A 2012 review ((Cao, H., Li, X., & Liu, J. (2012). An updated review of the efficacy of cupping therapy. PloS one, 7(2), e31793. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031793)) shows that cupping therapy can help in treating the following conditions:

  • herpes zoster
  • facial paralysis (Bell palsy)
  • cough and dyspnea
  • acne
  • lumbar disc herniation
  • cervical spondylosis

In addition, cupping therapy is seen to help athletes in their recovery.

The Bottom Line

Various research studies show the benefits of cupping therapy. Moreover, its popularity also implies that it can help certain health issues. However, most of the studies suggest the need for further studies

Before getting cupping therapy, you need to understand how cupping therapy works. Moreover, choose only an experienced and licensed acupuncturist or TCM practitioner for a safe and effective treatment.

Need a Cupping Therapy in Coquitlam?

At Evergreen Rehab & Wellness – Coquitlam, we have a licensed acupuncturist and TCM expert that provides best-in-class cupping therapy.

We don’t only have acupuncturists in Coquitlam, we also have acupuncturists in Surrey that are always ready to provide best-in-class service.

Moreover, we also have an acupuncturist in Langley that can help you.

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