Cupping is an alternative form of treatment that has been in use since ancient Egyptian and Chinese times. A suction is created locally on the skin using cups or cup-shaped objects. It is widely believed to promote blood flow thus helping in the healing process of patients for a wide number of illnesses and medical conditions. Let’s learn a bit on Cupping as an alternative form of treatment.
Origins of Cupping
Though Cupping has appeared in various times throughout history, the particular origin of this therapy is yet to be known. It is thought that the suction therapy has been spread throughout the world by human tribes. In the ancient times, many different things were used as the main component of Cupping, such as animal horns, hollowed bones, seashells, bamboos, etc.
Traces of Cupping therapy can be dated back about 3500 years to ancient Egypt through hieroglyphic writings from that time. Taoist alchemist Ge Hong is credited for the use of Cupping and similar methods in the 4th century A.D. Even in ancient Greece, Cupping and similar therapy was recommended by the famous Hippocrates for a number of diseases.
Some sources also state that the first documented use of Cupping can be found in the preaching of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), thus is a famous type of treatment in various Muslim communities. However, the origins of Cupping therapy is often credited to ancient China, as it is still popularly used as a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
Glass cups came into being in the 20th century, and with that came a new tide of modern Cupping. The new glass cups slowly replaced the clay ones that kept breaking and the bamboo cups that would deteriorate due to repeated use.
Moreover, the see-through glass cups allowed the practitioners to see the state of the treatment based on the reaction of the skin – something that could not be done with the other materials previously used.
How does Cupping work?
There are different types of Cupping such as dry, wet and air Cupping respectively. During a dry Cupping session, a cotton ball soaked in alcohol is lit on fire and placed inside a glass cup. This burning uses up all the oxygen inside the cup, thus creating a vacuum there.
As this process is going on, the cup is placed on the skin in a specific area of the body, with the open end of the cup pressed on the skin. The vacuum causes the cup’s rim to be pressed tighter to the skin. The area of the skin bound by the cup is sucked upwards by the vacuum. It is widely believed that this process opens up the pores of the skin and aids the blood flow as well as removing harmful toxins.
The cup is usually kept there for 5 to 15 minutes before being withdrawn, but this timing depends on the medical condition for which the treatment is being used.
Wet Cupping is quite similar to dry Cupping. However, a small puncture is made on the skin before placing the cup on it. When the cup’s vacuum pulls up the skin, a little amount of blood comes out of the punctured skin. It is believed by practitioners that this blood allows harmful and toxic substances to be removed from the body. The technique gets its name from the blood coming out of the skin.
On the other hand, air Cupping is a rather modern technique. Here, a fire is not used to create the vacuum inside the cup. Rather, the cup is directly placed on the skin and the air is drawn out of it using an attached suction pump. Thus the vacuum is created and works just like the dry Cupping.
A frequently asked question people have is whether or not Cupping is a safe form of therapy. Cupping in general is perceived as a safe form of therapy. However, it is not uncommon feel a little pain during the process of Cupping and to have swelling or small bruises on the skin.
The bruises are mainly caused by the expansion of the blood vessels on the skin surface due to the sucking of the vacuum. But these are painless and vanish soon after the therapy. It should also be noted that one must always consult a practitioner or doctor before using the Cupping therapy in order to avoid any unwanted side-effects.
Pregnant and menstruating women are advised not to use Cupping therapy.
What are the benefits of using Cupping therapy?
Cupping is used as an alternative form of treatment for a large number of ailments and conditions. It is often used to treat pain syndromes such as loin pain, headaches, pain in the shoulder blades and other soft tissue injury.
Cupping therapy is also used for digestive diseases like dysentery, gastritis and pediatric indigestion. Respiratory issues like bronchitis and asthma are often treated by Cupping therapy in traditional Chinese Medicine. Irregular menstruation, infertility, uterine cramps, etc. are also reported to be treated by Cupping therapies. It is also used by many for muscle stiffness.
Other than these, Cupping is used to treat common colds, insomnia and partial paralysis alongside a plethora of other ailments. All this is done by the removal of toxins and the facilitation of blood flow.
In recent times, Cupping has seen a rise in demand after various celebrities started using Cupping therapy. Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Anniston, Lady Gaga and various others have been known to resort to Cupping therapy.
In fact, those doubting the effectiveness of Cupping only need to look at renowned tennis player Andy Murray, who used Cupping to treat his back injury. Similarly, various other athletes are known to take the help of Cupping.
Though many speculate and doubt the powers of this alternative form of treatment, Cupping has been in use for over 3500 years now. If it wasn’t effective, it wouldn’t have lasted for so long. If you have any ailments that no other treatment has been able to cure, try out this ancient Cupping therapy.