During cupping a strong stimulus is applied to the skin by means of suction bells (i.e. with negative pressure). If the cupping head is set locally (i.e. without moving it), the effect is also local. If you move the cupping head, however, this leads to a cupping massage.

The basis of cupping is the connection between the body’s interior and surface. Via so-called cutivisceral or viscerocutaneous reflex arcs there is a close connection between the skin surface (or muscle zones) and the internal organs. The so-called Head’s zones also became known in this context.

A distinction is made between bloody and non-bloody cupping. The technique itself is older (well over 5000 years) than bloodletting or leech therapy, although it was forgotten for a while. It was most likely developed by the indigenous people through the instictive sucking action on wounds, e.g. as a result of snake bites, pain or inflammation.


In bloodless cupping, individual heads are placed (the glass is heated briefly and placed on the dry skin) or a cupping head glide massage is performed. In the latter case the skin must be rubbed with a lubricant.  The skin is (strongly) reddened by the irritation. This redness usually disappears after a few hours.

Similarly, when a cupping head is placed, a “haematoma” develops, which remains visible for up to three weeks, depending on the skin type, before it recedes.

In contrast to bloodless (dry) cupping, the affected area of skin is disinfected first. Then the skin is incised there using a haemostilette or a disposable scalpel. The disposable cupping head is then placed at this point. Usually, about 0.5 to 1ml of blood emerge in the time of about 10-15min. After removing the cupping head, disinfection is repeated and a small plaster is applied. In contrast to dry cupping a haemodilution takes place here – like a small bloodletting.