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Disclaimer: All material provided in the Unani Institute site is provided for educational purposes only. Consult your own physician regarding the applicability of any opinions or recommendations with respect to your symptoms or medical condition. Procedures should only be carried out by persons trained and licensed to do so.


    The operation of cupping cleanses the skin of affected parts and draws healing force to the area. Cupping is less effective with heavy, thick-skinned persons. It should be known that cupping does produce some weakness in the member to which the glasses are applied. Cupping should not be done on persons over sixty years or under three years of age.

Proper Time to Apply Cupping Glasses

    Avicenna advises against using cupping glasses at the beginning of the lunar month because the humors are then congested and difficult to move. The best time is the middle of the month, when the moon is on the increase and the humors are in a state of agitation. The sixteenth and seventeenth days of the lunar month are best. The three hours after sunrise are the best time to apply the glasses. Cupping should not be done after taking a bath, except in the case of thickened blood. Then it should be done one hour after bathing.

Methods of Cupping

    There are two methods: wet and dry. In dry cupping, the glasses are applied to the skin with heat from the flame used to dispel air from the chamber of the cup. Wet cupping requires making a scarification of the skin, so that a small amount of blood is drawn. The use of wet cupping serves as a substitute for venesection, in which larger quantities of blood are let out. Both wet cupping and venesection were originally used as a prophylactic measure. Exercise and adjustments to diet make wet cupping and venesection of less use than in former times.


    There are several purposes in cupping: (1) to draw inflammation away from deep parts toward the surface and make it more accessible to medicines; (2) to divert inflammation from an important organ to a less important one; (3) to in-fuse warmth and blood into an affected organ and to dispel humors from it; (4) to alleviate pain.


    Cupping should not be done over the breasts in women, as it will interrupt the menstrual flow. Other sites and conditions to avoid are all bony prominences, sites prone to cramps, areas showing any superficial blood vessels, varicose veins or much hair growth, tumors, and lymph nodes. Cupping should never be done on pregnant women or infants. Cupping on the nape of the neck is said to induce amnesia.


    Have the person lie down on an examination table or a firm bed, in case of fainting during treatment. If the person feels unwell during the procedure, discontinue immediately. Select cupping sites or swollen spot.

Length of Application

    The cups may be applied for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the site under the cups begins to appear reddish. The place of application may afterward become inflamed. To avoid this, soak a cloth or sponge in moderately hot water and place it around the base of the cup after it is sealed onto the skin.


    A small, medium, or large cupping apparatus is used, made of glass, bamboo, or plastic. Use the larger cups on healthy young people; use smaller ones for the elderly, weak, or chronically ill.


    Hold a small ball of cotton saturated with rubbing alcohol or olive oil in a pair of forceps or large tweezers. Ignite the cotton and quickly apply the flame to the inside of the cup, then remove and extinguish. The cup is instantly placed over the selected spot, and the cup will attach itself firmly to the skin because of the atmospheric pressure outside. This method is quite safe and pain-less. Some practice may be required to affix the cup properly. It may assist adhesion to apply olive oil or petroleum jelly to the lip of the jar prior to application.


    After 10 to 15 minutes, press the skin around the edges of the cup to remove it. When air enters from the outside, the cup will fall off by itself. Do not use pressure on the cup, or the skin may tear. A meal may be taken one hour after cupping is done.

Points Of Application

Site Indications
Nape of neck Heaviness of eyelids, itch of eyes, bad breath.
Between the shoulder blades Pains in upper arms and throat; to relax cardiac orifice of stomach
Over the two posterior neck veins Tremor of head; and for conditions of the head (face, teeth, ears, eyes, throat, nose).
Legs Cleanses the blood; provokes menstrual flow.
Under the chin Teeth; throat; cleanses head and jaws.
Inner thighs Inflammatory masses in upper part of thigh; pustules; podagra; piles; bladder; uterus; renal congestion.
Front of thighs Inflammation of testicles; leg ulcers.
Behind hips Inflammatory conditions and ulcers of buttocks.
Behind knee (popliteal space) Aneurysm; chronic abscesses; septic ulcer of leg and foot.
 Over ankle bone (malleoli) Suppressed menses; sciatica; podagra.
Over the outer side of hips Sciatica; podagra; piles; inguinal hernia; tissues within hip joints.
 Over the buttocks, towards anus Draws humors from whole body, from head; benefits the intestines; cures suppressed menses.

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