Scientifically Proven Therapeutic Results

The Science behind cupping and the benefits waiting for you.

Ancient Science | Modern Methods

Cupping has been around for centuries. Until recently there hasn’t been much scientific research to back up the claims commonly made by athletes, trainers and therapists who use this modality. Thankfully with the increase in popularity there has been interest in the science community to give us some data about the potential benefits of cupping. We hope you enjoy reading through the vast amount of information included in the studies we’ve highlighted here.

Published Medical Papers on Cupping

Cupping for blood flow:

Cupping therapy: An analysis of the effects of suction on skin and the possible influence on human health

RESULTS: “Negative pressure causes stretching of the skin and underlying tissue and dilation of the capillaries. This stimulates an increase in tissue blood flow, eventually leading to capillary rupture and ecchymosis. Macrophages phagocytize the erythrocytes in the extravascular space which stimulates the production of Heme Oxygenase-1 (HO-1) to metabolize the heme. Heme catalysis results in the production of carbon monoxide (CO), biliverdin(BV)/bilirubin(BR) and iron. HO-1, BV, BR, and CO has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and neuromodulatory effects in animal and human systems. These substances also stimulate a shift of macrophages to the anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype. There is evidence that the effects are both local and systemic.

Besides the mechanical effect of cupping increasing the local blood flow and stretching underlying tissue, activation of the HO-1 system could account for many of cupping therapy’s claimed local and systemic health benefits.”

Cupping for Migraines & Headaches:

Cupping Therapy for Migraine: A PRISMA-Compliant Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials

RESULTS: “In comparison to drugs, wet cupping showed a higher total effective rate. In qualitative analysis, the results showed wet cupping plus drugs treatment could quickly relieve pain and significantly improve patients’ quality of life and wet cupping could reduce headache pain.”

Cupping for Pain:

Cupping for Treating Pain: A Systematic Review

RESULTS: “One RCT [7] compared the effects of dry cupping on cancer pain with conventional drug therapy and reported favorable effects for cupping after 3-day intervention. Another RCT [8] compared dry cupping with nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in nonspecific low back pain and suggested a significant difference in pain relief on VAS after treatment duration. The third RCT [9] suggested that wet cupping reduced pain compared with analgesics in acute trigeminal neuralgia after the intervention period (RR, 93% versus 47%, P < .01). The fourth RCT [10] tested wet cupping plus usual care for pain reduction compared with usual care in non-specific low back pain and suggested significant differences in pain relief (McGill Pain Questionnaire) at 3 months after three treatment sessions (MD, 2.2 of 6 points present pain intensity; 95% CI, 1.7–2.6, P < .01). The fifth RCT [11] reported that one session of wet cupping plus usual care significantly reduced pain during a week compared with usual care alone in patients with BPN. The sixth RCT [12] showed favorable effects of one session of wet cupping on pain reduction compared with a heat pad in patients with BPN at 7 days after treatment.”

Cupping therapy and chronic back pain: systematic review and meta-analysis

RESULTS: “Cupping therapy has shown positive results on chronic back pain. The main assessed outcomes were pain intensity, physical incapacity, quality of life and nociceptive threshold before the mechanical stimulus. There was a significant reduction in the pain intensity score through the use of cupping therapy.”

Single Cupping Thearpy Session Improves Pain, Sleep, and Disability in Patients with Nonspecific Chronic Low Back Pain

RESULTS: “The evidence of cupping in the treatment of pain seems positive [22]. The data suggest effectiveness of cupping reducing pain perception and enhancing function, and the benefits unexpectedly extend for one week.”

The Evidence for Common Nonsurgical Modalities in Sports Medicine, Part 2: Cupping and Blood Flow Restriction

RESULTS: “Cupping may be an effective option with low risk in treating nonspecific, musculoskeletal pain. Studies comparing BFR with non-BFR controls suggest that it may increase muscle strength and endurance for individuals undergoing rehabilitation or sport-specific training by mimicking the low oxygen environment during exercise.”

Cupping for Scar Tissue:

A multidisciplinary approach (including cupping) to scars: a narrative review

RESULTS: “The cupping therapy, which has its origin in Chinese medicine, consists in creating a vacuum inside a small cup – which can be made of bamboo, glass, bakelite, or plastic (always through suitable equipment) – lying on the skin surface of the scar or next to it. According to the professionals who apply this technique, it enables the disposal of toxins and of any potential edema and restores the lymphatic circulation, with consequent effects even in areas that are far from the zone of application.”

Cupping for plantar fasciitis:

Dry cupping for plantar fasciitis

RESULTS: “The data indicated that both dry cupping therapy and electrical stimulation therapy could reduce pain and increase function significantly in the population tested.”

Cupping for Facial Paralysis & Acne:

An updated review of the efficacy of cupping therapy

RESULTS: “135 RCTs published from 1992 through 2010 were identified. The studies were generally of low methodological quality. Diseases for which cupping therapy was commonly applied were herpes zoster, facial paralysis (Bell palsy), cough and dyspnea, acne, lumbar disc herniation, and cervical spondylosis. Wet cupping was used in most trials, followed by retained cupping, moving cupping, and flash cupping. Meta-analysis showed cupping therapy combined with other TCM treatments was significantly superior to other treatments alone in increasing the number of cured patients with herpes zoster, facial paralysis, acne, and cervical spondylosis. No serious adverse effects were reported in the trials.”

Cupping for Osteoarthritis:

Cupping therapy for treating knee osteoarthritis: The evidence from systematic review and meta-analysis

RESULTS: “Study participants in the dry cupping therapy plus the Western medicine therapy group showed significantly greater improvements in the pain, stiffness, and physical function, domains of Western Ontario and McMaster Universities Osteoarthritis Index (WOMAC) compared to participants in the Western medicine therapy group, with low heterogeneity….evidence can support the hypothesis that cupping therapy can effectively improve the treatment efficacy and physical function in patients with KOA.”