Cupping is here, but it’s not for all

Cupping is here, but it’s not for all

Notice the red spots on American swimmer Michael Phelps back? You can see similar spots on the backs of Hollywood celebs like Jennifer Aniston and Justin Bieber, not to speak of several Olympians.

These spots are a result of what is called ‘cupping’ or Hijama.

Cupping is an ancient Chinese healing practice in which practitioners use special cups to create suction on the skin. The cups are made of bamboo, silicone, glass and earthenware.

“If done by a professional and in a proper manner, it can be rejuvenating, sort of like a deep tissue massage. It is picking up in Bengaluru and we get at least 10 to 15 people every day at our centre,” says Sumira Mubeen, cupping specialist, ICAHT Centre of Hijama/Cupping Therapy.

Sports people use the therapy mostly for rejuvenation and performance enhancement. Many use it to treat ailments like migraines, arthritis, asthma and eczema, according to Sumira. The most important thing to remember during a cupping session is hygiene. It is always advisable to use disposable cups, she says.

“IT professionals are using it to heal anxiety and stress. Cupping can also be used to treat depression and insomnia. It is great for lower-back pain and stiff shoulders,” Sumira told Metrolife. The types of cupping popular in Bengaluru are dry, massage, active release and wet. If not done by a professional practitioner, cupping could leave deep burn marks or bruises.

Dr Jampa Yonten, of the Tibetan Healing and Wellness Centre, Koramangala, says, “I have been a cupping practitioner for 25 years. In our tradition, it is only done by doctors as it can be dangerous if the practitioner doesn’t know the accurate points in a body. All Tibetan doctors learn this as a part of their medical course.”

Sometimes blood oozes out while cupping, and that is because it impure blood is being removed, he says.

“The practitioner has to be very skilled to do this. Too much bleeding is dangerous,” he warns. “Cupping therapy often provides immediate relief from pain. However, for people with anemia, high blood pressure and diabetes, cupping is not a good idea,” Dr Yonten he says.


It is important to consult a qualified doctor and go to a certified medical practitioner if you want to try cupping.

Types of cupping 

- Dry 
-Active release 

Cupping uses

Practitioners say cupping can be used for a range of ailments, including pain, anxiety, stress, migraine, arthritis, asthma and eczema. 

Burn marks

They remain for 1-2 days. By the third day, they begin to lighten. It all depends on how deep the cupping is.

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