All About Cupping Therapy – What You Need to Know

Cupping therapy is an ancient Chinese and West Asian practice that has been used for thousands of years as a form of alternative therapy. It is used to treat various conditions by putting cups at specific points on a person’s skin for a few minutes, creating suction. It often leaves round bruises after treatment since the blood vessels burst once exposed to the therapy’s suction effects. The suction is said to stimulate a person’s “qi” which is the Chinese concept of life force, thus improving the condition’s symptoms.

Many cupping therapy practitioners believe that it balances an individual’s yin and yang or the negative and the positive within the body, restoring equilibrium and helping them feel better and healthier. As a result, people have turned to cupping therapy to address health conditions that traditional medicine couldn’t. Here’s what you need to know about cupping therapy:

The Effectiveness of Cupping Therapy

According to research, cupping works by causing hyperemia or hemostasis on a person’s skin, increasing or decreasing blood flow under the cups. It also connects to an individual’s acupoints, which are important to acupuncture. For this reason, many medical professionals consider cupping therapy as a complementary treatment that is meant to be done in tandem with other methods as they do not recognize it as part of Western medicine. Still, that doesn’t mean cupping isn’t an effective form of treatment, as many scientists have linked it to numerous health benefits.

The Health Benefits of Cupping Therapy

Many people turn to cupping therapy for pain relief. A study from the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found evidence that cupping may be effective at reducing pain. However, the researchers noted the limits that may have restricted exploring the therapy’s full potential.

Further analysis from the journal Revista Latina-Americano De Enfermagem suggests that there is evidence in cupping therapy being effective for treating back pain. However, they added the same caveat that many current studies are low-quality, which means they cannot attest to the full scope of cupping therapy’s effectiveness. Still, plenty of research has noted similar pain relief benefits of cupping therapy.

Additionally, the journal PLoS One found evidence suggesting that cupping therapy effectively treats skin conditions such as herpes zoster and acne. 

Another study found that professional athletes have turned to cupping therapy to optimize their recovery. With a decreased recovery time, they could train more efficiently.

The Side Effects of Cupping Therapy

Like every treatment, cupping therapy also has its side effects. These include skin discoloration and a bit of tenderness. If the patient has a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema, cupping may worsen the symptoms. If the practitioner uses wet cupping, the patient may experience anemia, although this happens if the practitioner is inexperienced and takes too much blood while cupping.

Other side effects to watch out for include dizziness, headaches, tiredness, nausea, and fainting. However, there are not common and rarely experienced. If you suspect that you may be sensitive, or have underlying health conditions, seek medical advice from your Doctor and be sure to disclose pertinent health information to your massage therapist.


Cupping therapy can work wonders for improving the symptoms of various health conditions. It increases blood circulation in the area it is applied, relieving muscle tension, encouraging cell repair, and even helping the body form new connective tissues. When used in tandem with other treatments, cupping therapy can help you feel better and improve your quality of life.

If you’re looking for a good massage therapist in St. Albert or Edmonton that offers cupping therapy, Therapeutic Body Concepts is the one to call. We are a massage and acupuncture clinic offering a wide range of services, such as manual osteopathy, acupuncture, and more. Contact us today to book an appointment!

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