Cupping, for centuries, was used as a therapeutic form of home medical care in eastern societies and used traditionally in families and villages. It has been a past down tradition and is still used today. Cupping is a technique of "creating suction on the skin using a glass, ceramic, bamboo, or plastic cup." This suction is created either by applying a flame to the inside of the cup or by attaching a suction device to the cup.
The negative pressure causes stretching of the skin and underlying tissue and dilation of the capillaries. This stimulates an increase in tissue blood flow, eventually leading to capillary rupture and ecchymosis. Ecchymosis is a discoloration of the skin resulting from bleeding underneath, typically caused by bruising.
According to NIH and evidence-based research, it suggests that cupping stimulates the production of Heme Oxygenase-1 (HO-1) to metabolize the heme. Heme catalysis results in the production of carbon monoxide (CO), biliverdin(BV)/bilirubin(BR), and iron. HO-1, BV, BR, and CO have been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiproliferative, and neuromodulatory effects in animal and human systems. These substances also stimulate a shift of macrophages to the anti-inflammatory M2 phenotype. There is evidence that the effects are both local and systemic.