top of page

Cupping: Effective Therapy or Hocus-Pocus?

This article offers a critical view of cupping therapy, a traditional healing method gaining popularity in modern medicine. It explores whether cupping is a scientifically based treatment for pain and other health issues or just medical superstition. The analysis is based on current scientific studies and meta-analyses, highlighting both potential benefits and methodological limitations of existing research.

A woman lies on a massage table. She is being treated with cupping glasses.

What is Cupping?

Cupping therapy, a form of traditional Chinese medicine, has been increasingly receiving attention in Western medicine in recent years. This method uses suction cups on the skin to treat various health problems. This article aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the use, benefits, and limitations of cupping therapy, based on current scientific studies.

How does Cupping work?

Cupping therapy is mainly used for the treatment of muscle and joint pain, chronic pain conditions, and respiratory diseases. The research "Hemorphin-Based Analgesia: A Mechanism of Cupping Technique?" examines the analgesic mechanism of cupping therapy, particularly in the context of hemoglobin degradation and the formation of hemorphins. A connection between the skin discoloration caused by cupping and local analgesia is established. The study suggests that hemorphins, produced by the proteolysis of the beta subunit of hemoglobin, could serve as potential biomarkers for an objective and timely clinical assessment of cupping therapy in pain treatment.

Advantages and Limitations

Studies suggest that cupping can be an effective method for pain relief. A meta-analysis showed significant short-term effects compared to no treatment.

The research "Effectiveness of Cupping Therapy on Pain Outcomes: An Evidence Mapping Study" reveals variable evidence quality and underscores the need for more rigorous research. Many studies show methodological weaknesses, and there is considerable heterogeneity in treatment protocols. High-quality randomized controlled trials are lacking.

Pros and Cons 

Pros: Potential pain relief, low incidence of side effects.

Cons: Limited evidence, variable results.

Conclusion: Cupping shows potential but requires further research.




bottom of page