The effectiveness of cupping therapy on chronic fatigue syndrome: A single-blind randomized controlled trial

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2020 Aug:40:101210. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101210. Epub 2020 Jun 20.


Background: and purpose: We investigated the effectiveness of cupping therapy with three different pressures in patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS).

Materials and methods: The participants were randomly assigned to three groups, as follows: cupping pressure of -0.02 mpa (n = 38), -0.03 mpa (n = 38), or -0.05 mpa (n = 36). Each group received cupping treatment that consisted of 10 sessions over 5 weeks (2 sessions per week). The primary outcomes were Fatigue Scale (FS-14) score and Fatigue Assessment Instrument (FAI) score after 5 and 10 sessions. The secondary outcomes were the Self-Rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) score, the Self-Rating Depression Scale (SDS) score, and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) score.

Results: There were 91 participants who completed the trial. After five sessions of treatment, the primary outcome of FS-14 score decreased by 3.20 (2.19, 4.21) in the -0.02 mpa group, by 2.39 (1.51, 3.27) in the -0.03 mpa group, and by 3.40 (2.28, 4.52) in the -0.05 mpa group (P = 0.667). After 10 sessions of treatment, the outcome of FS-14 score decreased by 5.00 (3.79, 6.21) in the -0.02 mpa group, by 4.06 (3.07, 5.05) in the -0.03 mpa group, and by 4.77 (3.52, 5.94) in the -0.05 mpa group (P = 0.929). And, the results were statistically different between 5 sessions and 10 sessions of treatment (P < 0.01). However, there were no statistical differences in FAI, SAS, SDS, and PSQI scores between the three groups after 5 sessions and 10 sessions of treatment.

Conclusions: In conclusion, cupping therapy has significantly relieved fatigue symptoms and improved emotion and sleep condition of CFS patients, and 10 sessions of treatment had superior results compared with 5 sessions in each group. Moreover, in 5 sessions of treatment, cupping with high pressure showed better improvement in fatigue syndromes and sleep condition according to effective rates.

Trial registration: Chinese clinical trial registry (ChiCTR1800017590); Ethical approval number: ChiECRCT-20180085.

Keywords: Chronic fatigue syndrome; Cupping therapy; Regularity of effect.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cupping Therapy / methods*
  • Fatigue Syndrome, Chronic / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / therapy
  • Young Adult