Cupping Therapy (Terapi Bekam)

WARNING: the below video is quite gruesome!

Water buffalo horns being used to increase circulation and bring contaminated blood to the surface.

With Indonesia being the most populated Muslim country in the world, it’s only reasonable to expect them to embrace the Islamic practice of bloodletting (cupping). Indonesia also has a large Chinese population who also practice cupping. Though the Chinese have a religious / philosophical view (balancing qi) of cupping that differs from the Muslim view, the expected results are the same.

Whether it’s the Muslim or the Chinese, the practice is purely for medical reasons. They believe blood can stop circulating and will pool up in various areas of the body. When it does, it creates aches, pains, headaches, and every imaginable sickness or disease one could think of (Christians also practice this).

Cup placed on the back.
The skin is shown being drawn up into the cup.

To correct the situation the clogged blood needs to be removed and circulation restored. This is conducted through bloodletting, specifically with water buffalo horns, glasses, or specifically designed cups.



Fire Cupping / Dry Cupping

Marks left on the body after cups removed. Not all cupping looks this serious.

With this type of cupping a horn or glass has alcohol sprayed on the inside. The alcohol is then lit and immediately placed on the person’s body. As the fire dies out a vacuum is created which pulls blood to the surface of the skin. Some practitioners will use candles for this purpose. The candle is placed on the person’s body, lit, and a glass immediately placed over it. As the fire is extinguished for lack of oxygen, and the inside of the cup cools down, a vacuum is formed.

Wet Cupping

The above is referred to as “dry cupping,” where blood is not removed from the body. The cupping procedure is expected to restore circulation only. With “wet cupping” blood is actually drawn out of the body. The procedure is as follows:

After several minutes of the first application of the horn or glass, they are removed and a number of small incisions or punctures are made in the location where the glass was positioned. The horn or glass is then reapplied which enables the blood to be drawn out with less restriction.

Indonesians who believe wind has entered their body (masuk angin), will at times use cupping to get the wind out.


Those who practice cupping believe it will:

  • Improve memory
  • Cure hypertension / high blood pressure / stroke
  • Treat headaches
  • Cure diabetes
  • Reduce mental retardation
  • Stimulate perception and awareness
  • Cure every imaginable sickness

According to the American Cancer Society, “scientific evidence does not support cupping as a cure for cancer or any other disease.”

Some say if you need to release “bad blood,” you should donate your blood at the Red Cross or other similar facility. These facilities will conduct this procedure sanitarily, free, and you may even get free juice and cookies afterwards!


WARNING: the below video isn’t for those with weak stomachs.

There is blood involved with wet cupping.


Click this link to read additional information against the practice of blood letting, as well as many interesting comments after the article.