Don't Get Sucked Into The Cupping Fad

On this week's episode of the pod, we tackle two techniques that are growing in popularity: dry needling and cupping. We kick things off with a discussion of the difference between acupuncture and dry needling. We discuss the specifics of dry needling and its purported benefits and uses. Then, you guessed it, we turn to the data and critically appraise the quality of studies on this topic. We next discuss the potential side effects and risks of dry needling, though rare, as well as the training (or lack thereof) that is required of practitioners of this technique. Next, we dive into cupping! We discuss its history and roots in early Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern medical practices and cultures. We discuss dry cupping versus wet cupping (which sounds a lot like bloodletting) as well and their purported benefits. We spend some time talking about the popularization of cupping in pop culture and its impact on societal acceptance of this practice. We dig into the data and available studies on cupping and theories about cupping's mechanism of action (most of which have no evidence to support them). We discuss the risks of cupping, costs of getting cupping done, and training for cupping practitioners. We wrap things up with a bit of a philosophical reflection on the dangers of accepting these fringe alternative practices on general distrust of science. You don't want to miss this! Check us out on Substack and Instagram: PLEASE NOTE: The discussion and information provided in this podcast are for general educational, scientific, and informational purposes only and are not intended as, and should not be treated as, medical or other professional advice for any particular individual or individuals. Every person and medical issue is different, and diagnosis and treatment requires consideration of specific facts often unique to the individual. As such, the information contained in this podcast should not be used as a substitute for consultation with and/or treatment by a doctor or other medical professional. If you are experiencing any medical issue or have any medical concern, you should consult with a doctor or other medical professional. Further, due to the inherent limitations of a podcast such as this as well as ongoing scientific developments, we do not guarantee the completeness or accuracy of the information or analysis provided in this podcast, although, of course we always endeavor to provide comprehensive information and analysis. In no event may Unbiased Science or any of the participants in this podcast be held liable to the listener or anyone else for any decision allegedly made or action allegedly taken or not taken allegedly in reliance on the discussion or information in this podcast or for any damages allegedly resulting from such reliance. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

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Dr. Jessica Steier, a public-health expert, and Dr. Andrea Love, an immunology expert, are the hosts of Unbiased Science, a podcast devoted to objective, critical appraisal of available evidence on health-related topics relevant to listeners’ daily lives. Follow them on Instagram at