Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin; practitioners believe this mobilizes blood flow in order to promote healing. Suction is created using heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps). It is known in local languages as baguan/baguar, badkesh, banki, bahnkes, bekam, buhang, bentusa, kyukaku, gak hoi, Hijamah, kavaa (ކަވާ), singhi among others.
There is reason to believe the practice dates from as early as 3000 B.C.; the earliest record of cupping is in the Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world. It describes in 1,550 B.C. Egyptians used cupping. Archaeologists have found evidence in China of cupping dating back to 1,000 B.C. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (c. 400 B.C.) used cupping for internal disease and structural problems. This method in multiple forms spread into medicine throughout Asian and European civilizations.
Cupping in Europe and the Middle East grew from humoral medicine, a system of health ancient Greeks used to restore balance through the four "humors" in the body: blood, phlegm, yellow bile and black bile. This system was pervasive in European and Middle-East cultures at the time. Humoral medicine had a brief or short revival in European medicine in the 18th and 19th centuries, and cupping was used in this practice.
In the West, cupping therapy was part of the basic repertoire of clinical skills a doctor was expected to understand and practice until the latter part of the 19th century with some Eastern European countries such as in Poland and Bulgaria continuing to practice cupping therapy to the present. In parts of Western Europe there has been a recent upsurge in the interest from both public and academic perspectives. Scientific studies researching the effects of cupping therapy attempt to better understand the mechanisms underpinning this age old medical treatment. Societies like the British Cupping Society have contributed to its re-emergence as an alternative therapy.