Is cupping an effective treatment? An overview of systematic reviews

J Acupunct Meridian Stud. 2011 Mar;4(1):1-4. doi: 10.1016/S2005-2901(11)60001-0.


Several systematic reviews (SRs) have assessed the effectiveness of cupping for a range of conditions. Our aim was to provide a critical evaluation and summary of these data. Electronic searches were conducted to locate all SRs concerning cupping for any condition. Data were extracted by two authors according to predefined criteria. Five SRs met our inclusion criteria, which related to the following conditions: pain conditions, stroke rehabilitation, hypertension, and herpes zoster. The numbers of studies included in each SR were small. Relatively clear evidence emerged only for one indication, that cupping may be effective for reducing pain. Based on evidence from the currently available SRs, the effectiveness of cupping has been demonstrated only as a treatment for pain, and even for this indication doubts remain.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Points
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / therapy
  • Herpesviridae Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / therapy
  • Pain Management*
  • Skin
  • Stroke Rehabilitation