Abdominal Cupping

Abdominal cupping

Cupping therapy, a cornerstone of traditional Chinese medicine, has been used to treat medical issues relating to almost every area of the human body for thousands of years. Though often poorly understood, cupping therapy continues to successfully reduce the symptoms of dozens of different conditions and, as a result, is rapidly gaining popularity as an alternative therapy in the West.

When applied to the abdomen, cupping therapy can be used to address a broad range of conditions. From digestive complains (such as constipation and flatulence) to cosmetic issues (like scars and stretch marks), abdominal cupping has therapeutic benefits for almost every problem relating to the stomach. Although the mechanisms behind the benefits of cupping therapy are often poorly understood, its effectiveness in treating abdominal issues have been documented by several scientific studies. 

What type of cupping is most often used to address abdominal issues?

The type of therapy most commonly used to address abdominal issues is moving cupping. This is a variation of dry cupping in which cups are applied to the stomach and moved up and down along problem areas. First, the skin is oiled to reduce friction and facilitate smooth gliding of the cups. The cups (made of glass, plastic, bamboo or ceramic) are then applied to the skin and suction is created, either using heat or a manual suction pump.

The negative pressure created by the suction lifts the upper layer of the skin into the cup and stimulates the underlying tissues and muscles. The massaging action of moving cupping therapy is also beneficial for addressing a range of digestive issues (in which case, cups are usually applied in the region of the stomach, bladder, kidneys and naval).

What abdominal conditions can be treated by abdominal cupping?

Digestive issues

Digestive issues are incredibly common and affect almost everyone at one time or another. Constipation and flatulence in particular are prevalent worldwide and, though generally harmless, can significantly lessen people’s quality of life if left unaddressed for long periods of time.

Abdominal cupping is a reliable way of alleviating constipation and promoting more regular bowel movement. The massaging action of the treatment encourages large bowel peristalsis, which can decrease gastrointestinal transit time and encourage more frequent bowel movements. As a result, abdominal cupping has been proven to effectively treat functional constipation, which can promote healthier bowel function overall. Regular cupping has the potential to regulate the digestive system, for reduced discomfort, bloating and more consistent movements.

Cupping therapy can also be used to cure flatulence, a condition in which excessive amounts of gas are produced. This is also thought to be due to the massaging action of abdominal cupping therapy. 

Stretch marks

Stretch marks are marks on the skin which form when the skin is stretched, usually during growth spurts or pregnancy. These usually start out dark red or purple in color and gradually fade to white or silver. Stretch marks are very common (especially among pregnant women and teenagers) and can vary widely in appearance. In cases where stretch marks are extensive and prominent, they can cause psychological distress. As a result, several treatments exist to address the issue of stretch marks, and one that has seen promising results is cupping therapy.

The massaging effect of abdominal cupping therapy can help to improve the appearance of stretch marks. Studies have also found that massage therapy can help to prevent the formation of stretch marks in pregnant women. This may be because cupping encourages local blood flow, which carries a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients to the area and promotes skin healing.

Postsurgical scars

Abdominal scars (such as C-section scars) are often large and prominent, and are a common concern among patients undergoing surgical procedures. Fortunately, the appearance of abdominal scars can be improved by moving cupping therapy, as several clinical studies have shown.

As with stretch marks, this effect is probably down to the massaging action of the treatment. Studies have concluded that massage therapy can be effective for reducing the appearance, pain and itching of scars. This may be because cupping therapy increases local blood circulation in targeted areas, suppling the tissues with a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients. A healthy flow of oxygenated blood is essential for wound healing. Therefore, the combined effects of cupping therapy can help to reduce the appearance and discomfort associated with abdominal scars.

Abdominal bloating

Abdominal bloating is another common digestive issue that most people experience at some point in their lives. Bloating can cause the abdomen to become swollen and distended and is often associated with other digestive conditions, such as constipation and flatulence. Although usually harmless, abdominal bloating can cause psychological distress and physical discomfort in sufferers, especially if the condition is chronic or recurrent.

Abdominal cupping can be highly effective for reducing abdominal bloating. This is because bloating is often caused by a slow gastrointestinal transit time, something that can be addressed by moving cupping therapy. The massaging action of the treatment can help to stimulate large bowel peristalsis, encouraging healthier and more regular movements. This can be highly effective for reducing abdominal bloating, by treating the constipation and gut stasis that often causes the condition. 


Moving cupping therapy (in which cups are used to apply suction and then moved up and down along problem areas) is a highly useful treatment for addressing a variety of abdominal issues. The massaging motion of the treatment can stimulate large bowel peristalsis and promote more frequent bowel movement, which can effectively treat conditions like constipation, flatulence and abdominal bloating.

Cupping also improves local blood circulation, bringing a fresh supply of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of targeted areas. This can help to nourish and repair damaged skin, potentially reducing the appearance of postsurgical scars and stretch marks. 

Abdominal cupping is, therefore, the ideal therapeutic treatment for a range of medical and cosmetic issues. When applied to the abdomen, this ancient healing technique can help to keep your digestive health and skin in peak condition.

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