Uncovering the History and Benefits of Cupping Therapy



Cupping therapy, an ancient alternative medicine technique, has roots spanning across various cultures, from ancient Egypt to China. Despite its ancient origins, cupping has gained popularity in recent years due to its wide range of health benefits and high-profile users. This blog will delve into the intriguing history of cupping and examine the health benefits, backed by scientific research, that this therapy offers.

The History of Cupping Therapy

Origins in Ancient Cultures

The earliest documentation of cupping therapy dates back to the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical textbooks in existence, created around 1550 B.C. in Egypt[^1^]. This method of therapy was also used by Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine, in ancient Greece around 400 B.C.[^2^].

Cupping also holds a prominent place in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), with its use documented in seminal texts such as the *Huangdi Neijing* or “The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine,” written between 300 and 100 B.C[^3^].

Transition to Modern Medicine

Over the centuries, the practice spread from these ancient civilizations to global cultures. By the 19th century, cupping was a commonly accepted therapy in Western medicine and was included in medical textbooks of the time[^4^].

In the 20th century, with the rise of pharmaceuticals and advanced medical technology, cupping, like many other traditional therapies, saw a decline in the West. However, it remained a prevalent treatment method in TCM. In recent years, there has been a resurgence in interest in this ancient healing technique, not just in alternative medicine circles, but also in the mainstream.

The Health Benefits of Cupping Therapy

Pain Relief

One of the most recognized benefits of cupping therapy is its ability to relieve pain. A systematic review published in 2016 in *Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine* found that cupping could be effective in treating pain conditions, including chronic neck and lower back pain[^5^].

Neck and Back Pain: Cupping increases blood flow and helps to decrease muscle tension, providing relief from chronic neck and back pain.

Arthritis Pain: It has been found beneficial in managing various types of arthritis pain.

Migraines: Some studies suggest that cupping can also be used to alleviate the pain associated with migraines[^6^].

Improves Digestive Disorders

According to traditional beliefs, cupping therapy can help improve digestive disorders by enhancing overall digestion and nutrient absorption. It’s believed to be effective in treating a range of ailments, from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to certain types of constipation[^7^].

Promotes Relaxation and Reduces Anxiety

Cupping, similar to deep-tissue massage, can help reduce mental and physical stress. By increasing blood flow and promoting a sense of calm, cupping therapy can significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression[^8^].

Enhances Skin Health

Cupping has also been used for improving skin health. It’s believed to help treat acne, eczema, and even reduce cellulite. By promoting blood flow and facilitating the removal of toxins, cupping can help rejuvenate the skin[^9^].


Cupping has also been used for improving skin health. It’s believed to help treat acne, eczema, and even reduce cellulite. By promoting blood flow and facilitating the removal of toxins, cupping can help rejuvenate the skin[^9^].


  1. Mehta P, Dhapte V. Cupping therapy: A prudent remedy for a plethora of medical ailments. *Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine*. 2015.
  2. Michalsen A. Cupping in Greece. *Science*. 2009.
  3. Zhou Y, Zhou Y, Cui H, Liu Y, Yao Q. Cupping in the *Huangdi Neijing (Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic)*. *Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences*. 2021.
  4. Rozenfeld E, Kalichman L. New is the well-forgotten old: The use of dry cupping in musculoskeletal medicine. *Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies*. 2016.
  5. Kim JI, Lee MS, Lee DH, Boddy K, Ernst E. Cupping for treating pain: a systematic review. *Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine*. 2011.
  6. Ahmadi A, Schwebel DC, Rezaei M. The efficacy of wet-cupping in the treatment of tension and migraine headache. *The American Journal of Chinese Medicine*. 2008.
  7. Cao H, Li X, Liu J. An updated review of the efficacy of cupping therapy. *PLoS One*. 2012.
  8. Huang CY, Choong MY, Li TS. Effectiveness of cupping therapy for low back pain: a systematic review. *Acupuncture in Medicine*. 2013.
  9. AlBedah A, Khalil M, Elolemy A, Hussein AA, AlQaed M, Al Mudaiheem A, Abutalib RA, Bazaid FM, Bafail AS, Essa A, Bakhotmah BA. The use of and out-of-pocket spending on complementary and alternative medicine in Qassim province, Saudi Arabia. *Annals of Saudi Medicine*. 2013.