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Cupping Therapy: An Overview from a Modern Medicine Perspective

Cupping therapy is an ancient traditional and complementary medicine practice. Recently, there is growing evidence of its potential benefits in the treatment of pain-related diseases.

Eber's papyrus (1550 BC) from Ancient Egypt is one of the oldest medical texts to mention cupping therapy. Cupping therapy is part of numerous ancient healing systems, such as Chinese, Unani, traditional Korean, Tibetan, and Oriental medicine . 


The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates compiled extensive descriptions of the cupping application. He described two different types of cups: one with a narrow opening and a long handle and the other with a wider opening. The first type was used to treat deep accumulation of fluids, while the second type was used to treat the spread of pain. Cupping therapy was a popular historical treatment in Arabic and Islamic countries. It was recommended by Arabic and Islamic physicians such as Ibn Sina (AD 980–1037), Al-Zahrawi (AD 936–1036), and Abu Bakr Al-Razi (AD 854–925). Al-Zahrawi described cupping sites and illustrated cupping tools with diagrams . Cupping therapy practice spread to Italy and, subsequently, the rest of Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries, during the Renaissance.


Cupping was a very popular treatment of gout and arthritis in Italy during this period .