The treatment consists of creating a vacuum by burning a taper inside a cup and quickly placing the cup over the selected area. TCM believes the resulting suction effect invigorates blood and qi flows, unblocks the meridians, dispels dampness and cold, and eases swelling and pain. It is commonly applied in so called Bi syndromes (bi zheng) such as lumbago, joint pain, shoulder and back pain, and is also used in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders such as abdominal pain, or respiratory disorders like flu, pneumonia and bronchitis
It works according to the principles of acupoints and meridians. It can treat acute muscular skeletal sprains and some skin diseases such as carbuncles, erysipelas and psoriasis.