The efficacy of wet-cupping in the treatment of tension and migraine headache

Am J Chin Med. 2008;36(1):37-44. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X08005564.


Wet-cupping is an ancient medical technique still used in several contemporary societies, but little empirical study has been devoted to test its efficacy to treat tension and migraine headache. Using a pre-post research design, 70 patients with chronic tension or migraine headache were treated with wet-cupping. Three primary outcome measures were considered at the baseline and 3 months following treatment: headache severity, days of headache per month, and use of medication. Results suggest that, compared to the baseline, mean headache severity decreased by 66% following wet-cupping treatment. Treated patients also experienced the equivalent of 12.6 fewer days of headache per month. We conclude that wet-cupping leads to clinical relevant benefits for primary care patients with headache. Possible mechanisms of wet-cupping's efficacy, as well as directions for future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / therapy*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Suction*
  • Tension-Type Headache / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome