Cupping therapy
Cupping therapy

Cupping Therapy on the rise: Mainstream recognition needed

The craze for cupping therapy among Ghanaian youths is gaining momentum as they find diverse reasons to choose it over other stress-relief methods.


Benedicta Alornyo, a 35-year-old trader, turns to cupping therapy to find relaxation after weeks of hustling.

She says, “I use cupping therapy because it helps me unwind after weeks of hard work.

I’ve been doing it for nearly a year now, and I’ve incorporated it into my regular massage routine because it has no side effects.”

According to Benedicta, she believes it’s a safer method for managing stress and pain, making it her preferred choice.


Cupping Therapy, also known as myofascial decompression, vacuum cupping, hijama cupping, and horn treatment, is considered an ancient form of alternative medicine with its roots deeply embedded in Egyptian culture.

This therapy involves placing special cups, typically made of plastic or silicon, on the skin to create gentle suction.

This action lifts underlying tissues, increases blood circulation, and eliminates toxins and impurities from the body.

The therapy’s detoxifying properties and its ability to enhance overall well-being have made it a preferred choice among those seeking natural wellness methods.

Mustapha Bature Sallama, a Ghanaian-based cupping therapist, runs the Hijama Healing Therapy Centre (HHTC) in Kumasi, where he sees nearly 50 clients every month. He offers three types of services: dry cupping, hot cupping, and wet cupping, depending on the client’s preference.

Mustapha notes that many of his clients suffer from prolonged illnesses and are seeking alternative treatments due to their dissatisfaction with conventional medicine.

For him, the cupping therapy is safe, cost-effective, efficient and non-invasive.


Before gaining momentum in West Africa, cupping was a well-known practice in many Islamic communities.

 Traditional circumcisers known as “Wanzamai” used to perform it, using animal horns or bamboo sticks to draw “bad blood” from injuries.

Despite being seen as unqualified practice due to the lack of formal training among practitioners, many Muslim communities continued this practice as they believed it was handed down to them by Prophet Muhammad.

Abiba Sadique, a 24-year-old stylist from Nima, a Muslim community in Accra, Ghana, has been practicing cupping since she turned 16.

 She highlights its importance in their belief system, saying, “It is one of the practices recommended by the holy Prophet Mohammed, and we continue to use it.

I’ve heard people say it’s not good, but I don’t believe it’s harmful.”

Less defined

In Ghana, cupping therapy remains less defined, with no specific historical records pinpointing its introduction into mainstream healthcare practice.

However, it has found its place in practices such as herbal medicine, physiotherapy, homeopathy, and naturopathy as a means to enhance overall well-being.


Bright Arhin, a physician assistant at St Mathias Catholic Hospital in Yeji, emphasises that cupping is undoubtedly a valuable natural health therapy, suitable as an adjuvant therapy for conditions such as musculoskeletal pains, migraines, and psychological issues such as anxiety and depression.

However, he cautions against using it for skin infections due to the application of heat and cuts on the skin, which can lead to undesirable complications.

Maintaining that this therapy should not be used for obstetrics and gynecological purposes.

He highlights the need for necessary regulations to protect patients and ensure safe usage.


The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023 aims to build a knowledge base for the active management of Traditional and Complementary Medicine (T&CM) through appropriate national policies.

Cupping therapy encompasses several techniques, with the three main types being dry cupping, wet cupping (also known as Hijama or bloodletting), and hot (fire) cupping.

Each method serves distinct therapeutic purposes, offering individuals a range of options for addressing their health concerns. 

Dry cupping relies on vacuum suction to promote overall well-being, wet cupping enhances blood flow and circulation while reducing “bad” blood, and hot cupping uses heat to create a vacuum within the cups, promoting blood circulation and vital energy flow.


The science behind cupping involves the dilation of blood vessels in treated areas, resulting in increased blood flow, removal of toxins and enhanced antioxidant defences. 


A 2019 study by Suleyman Ersoy et al., published in the European Journal of Integrative Medicine, showed that cupping therapy significantly removed free radicals, contributing to improved overall health.

As interest in cupping therapy grows, it is essential to seek guidance from trained and qualified practitioners to ensure safe and effective treatment.

Abdul-Wadudu Faridu, a UK-based Ghanaian nurse, advocates the proper regulation of cupping in Ghana’s healthcare system, emphasising the fact that if it can enhance healthcare delivery, it should be recognised and regulated.

Cupping therapy has a rich historical legacy, dating back thousands of years to ancient civilisations.

Its enduring significance highlights its therapeutic value in modern times, capturing the curiosity and interest of practitioners and enthusiasts alike.

Science writer/communicator
E-mail: [email protected]

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