Cupping and moxibustion are healing techniques employed across the diverse traditions of acupuncture and oriental medicine for over 2,000 years.
In modern times, both methods are usually used to complement acupuncture with needles but they may be used independently.
Cupping and moxibustion share the principle of using heat to stimulate circulation and break up congestion or stagnation of blood and chi.
Cupping has some relation to the massage technique tuina, which uses rapid skin pinching at points on the back to break up congestion and stimulate circulation.
Moxibustion is more closely related to acupuncture as it is applied to specific acupuncture points, while cupping may be used over acupuncture points or elsewhere.
The literature on these techniques consists predominantly of opinion based on clinical experience, case reports, and a few case series reports in which the methods of observation and analysis are not clear or consistent. This does not mean the techniques do not work, but little of what has been reported can be evaluated as scientific evidence.
Acupuncture, baguanfa (Chinese: suction cup therapy), blood letting, chinetsukyu (Japanese: direct cone moxibustion), classical acupuncture, five element acupuncture, Korean belly bowls, kyukaku (Japanese: cupping), kyutoshin (Japanese: moxa on the head of the acupuncture needle), okyu (Japanese: rice-sized direct moxa), traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), zhenjiu (Chinese: acupuncture combined with moxibustion).
Not included in this review: Acupuncture, acupressure, classical acupuncture, five-element acupuncture, TCM.