Skip to Content



Denise Millstine

, MD, Mayo Clinic

Last full review/revision Feb 2019| Content last modified Feb 2019

Cupping (a manipulative and body-based practice) is used in traditional Chinese medicine. Cupping is believed to increase blood flow to the area on which a cup is placed, thereby improving healing in that area.

The air inside a cup is heated, often using a rubber pump in modern practice. The heated cup is immediately inverted and placed on the skin. The resulting vacuum sucks the skin partway into the cup, which may be left in place for several minutes.

Cupping has been used to treat herpes zoster, facial paralysis, acne, cervical spondylosis, respiratory symptoms, and pain.

Cupping will redden and may burn the skin.

(See also Overview of Integrative, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine.)

More Information about Cupping

  • National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH): Cupping

Copyright © 2022 Merck & Co., Inc., known as MSD outside of the US, Kenilworth, New Jersey, USA. All rights reserved. Merck Manual Disclaimer