If you've seen distinctive, red, circular marks resembling bruises on the backs of athletes and celebrities, they are a result of cupping therapy. You may not be familiar with the treatment option, but while it may seem like a strange and mysterious practice, it's been around for several thousand years. Since the method is becoming more mainstream, review the following guide to determine whether it's something you could benefit from.

What Is Cupping Therapy?

Cupping is a form of alternative medicine that has roots in ancient China and Egypt. It was reportedly first practiced by a famous Taoist alchemist, Ge Hong, who lived from A.D. 281 to 341. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, refers to the use of cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C. Devotees of the treatment believe it aids in restoring balance to the body and promoting blood circulation.

How Does It Work?

cupping therapy

During cupping therapy, a practitioner places round cups—typically glass or silicone—directly onto the skin. Glass cups are heated with a flame, which removes oxygen from inside the device and creates suction. Rubber pumps can be used on silicone cups to force the air out. The resulting vacuum pulls the skin upward into the cup, and the surface turns red as blood vessels expand and boost circulation. The cup is then removed.

There are two types of cupping therapy: dry and wet. Dry cupping is the more common option; practitioners place the cups on unbroken skin and remove them after five to 10 minutes. In wet cupping, the glass or silicon is removed after a few minutes, a small incision is made in the skin, and the cup is replaced on the body to draw out blood.

What Does It Treat?

Over the centuries, cupping has been used to treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Muscle aches
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Digestive problems
  • Acne and other skin issues
  • Migraines

Cupping therapy is very calming, which can ease anxiety, stress, and depression. However, it's not a replacement for a consultation with a medical professional.


Turn to the experts at Avicenna Acupuncture & Lymphedema Clinic to explore the benefits of cupping therapy. This alternative medicine practitioner has been providing residents of Denver, CO, with a natural and full-body approach to health since 2009. The caring, experienced doctors offer acupuncture and pain-free treatments for fibromyalgia and lymphedema, as well as fertility consultations. Call (303) 803-0675 to schedule an appointment, or visit their website to learn more about their services.