What Do We Mean by “Cupping”?

What Do We Mean by “Cupping”?

Conditions that cannot be cured with drugs are cured with iron.
Conditions that cannot be cured with iron are cured with fire. Conditions
that cannot be cured with fire are incurable.


Definition and Treatment Goal

Cupping refers to any natural treatment method in which suction cups are used in therapy.

Cupping is one of the traditional treatment methods that do not involve medicinal substances but nevertheless serve as useful weapons in the fight against many diseases or complaints. Applied correctly, the method is harmless and does not cause any adverse side-effects. The results are often fast and impressive because the body reacts within hours to cupping at the proper location.

The goal of cupping is to strengthen or activate the organism’s self-healing powers, when these are not able to do so on their own. Cupping stimulates and supports the options that nature has provided the body with to resist disease.

Effects and Connections

Cupping consists of two components:

Segmental therapy:       Regulation therapy:
• The location of cupping is essential (see Chapter 3).       Extravasates (i.e., fluid discharged from the blood vessels) act as stimuli (see Chapter 4)

Both of these components only affect the source of any illness, but not healthy body functions and tissue.

The essential effect of cupping is the retuning and therefore also the regulation of disturbed body functions, as well as the alleviation of pain and cramping, improvement in blood circulation, and inhibition of inflammation.

By locally applying suction cups, extravasates are created and as a result of these, hematomas (bruises) that cause a strong irritation. This irritation activates the body’s own localized, as well as generalized, healing powers and therefore has an anti-inflammatory effect, which in turn supports rapid recovery in any illness based on inflammation (e.g., pneumonia).

The process of regulating body functions eliminates blockages that have been caused mostly by a focal disturbance or by excessive consumption of chemical medicines, which impede the natural processes of the organism and make it ill. It is not uncommon that cupping, by eliminating blocked regulation, even brings out additional complaints, which finally indicate the location of the true disorder.

By stimulating circulation, cupping aims at widening the blood vessels. Increasing the blood flow at the cupping sites strengthens the metabolism and allows for faster elimination of substances that cause pain and cramping.

The above-mentioned segmental therapy occurs via the “Head’s zones,” via the so-called cutivisceral reflex paths (connections between skin and organ). Through the nervous system, this has a curative effect on disturbed neurovegetative functions and diseased viscera.

Methods of Application

Cupping Diagnosis

Cupping diagnosis allows the practitioner to determine with the aid of suction cups whether the position of the symptoms is the true location of the disease. Additionally, we can detect which organ is defective and in need of treatment.

“Dry” or “Bloodless” Cupping

In dry cupping, the suction cup is held over an alcohol flame in such a way that the air in it is heated. Then, the cup is placed on the treatment spot. As the heated air cools down, it creates a vacuum inside the cup. This process sucks the skin into the cup, causing hyperemia (strong circulation) at this spot, as well as an extravasate (bloody fluid that has leaked from the vessel and is present in the tissue).

Cupping Massage, a Variation

In cupping massage, as in dry massage, a suction cup is placed on the skin, but is then moved around on the lubricated skin across a certain area. Cupping massage has a much stronger effect on blood circulation than regular massage, resulting in a large, in some places more and in other places less, pronounced extravasate in the treatment area.

“Wet” or “Bloody” Cupping

In wet cupping, blood is drawn at the cupping site by cutting the skin with a scarificator. The cup is placed on the skin only afterwards, to suck the blood out of the cuts. This might sound quite bloodthirsty, but in reality only involves a blood loss of 25 mL at the most. Consequently, an application of 10–15 cups of average size means losing 150–250 mL of blood.

Wet cupping is related to bloodletting and the application of leeches. Its effect is not limited to drawing blood, but also includes a drawing out and retuning action.

Basic Therapeutic Concepts of Cupping

In spite of the fact that the cups are only placed on the skin at certain, for example, painful, parts of the body, and therefore appear to treat merely the symptoms, the aim of cupping is not all limited to suppressing the signs of the disease. Through the reflex connections, both cupping and cupping massage have a regulating and stimulating effect on the entire body and therefore a curative effect on the actual disease.

In the age of immunizations and chemically produced drugs, medical research has succeeded in controlling the great life-threatening epidemics of humankind. Nevertheless, another serious disease factor has been added: the “pharma person” (a person who takes too many drugs and uses too much medicine). Unfortunately, strong chemical substances continue to be applied too quickly and too frequently, especially in two circumstances:

The treatment of functional syndromes (an expression used in the context of disorders in which the therapist is unable to find any structural changes in the diseased organ or system and the chemical laboratory cannot contribute to the clarification of the complaints or the treatment of the patient either).

The treatment of most types of vegetative regulation disorders, also called vegetative dystonia (the name for several symptoms that are based on disturbed regulation of the vegetative nervous system and result in a variety of functional disorders), which manifest primarily as pain at one time and as impaired circulation and insomnia at another.


To alleviate pain and to temporarily regain or feign energy and vitality, the uncontrolled reach for pills has become like a reflex movement for many people. This holds the dangers of habit and adverse drug events.

As a rule, the treatment of symptoms alone leads to chronic illness later on, which has become commonplace in our times. Cupping is not a cure-all either in my opinion. Nevertheless, the targeted application of cupping will often suffice on its own to improve a condition or guide a disturbance back to normality. In other cases, cupping can play a significant supportive role or reduce the consumption of pharmaceutical drugs, in conjunction with other proven methods and the use of effective medicines.

There is no doubt that cupping supports the natural efforts of the body, that is, the preservation or restoration of health. Additionally, it improves and complements other therapeutic methods because of its fast and reliable effects.

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Aug 10, 2016 | Posted by in PHYSICAL MEDICINE & REHABILITATION | Comments Off on What Do We Mean by “Cupping”?

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