Cupping therapy dates back to ancient times and one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world, the Ebers Papyrus, describes how the ancient Egyptians were using cupping therapy in 1,550 B.C.
Cupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine in which cups are placed on the skin to create suction. The cups can be made of a variety of materials, Glass, Bamboo or Clay. People that regularly use cupping therapy believe the suction of the cups mobilize blood flow to promote the healing of a broad range of medical ailments.
Types of Cupping Therapy
There are two types of cupping therapy. Dry cupping which is suction only and Wet cupping which combines suction and controlled medicinal bleeding.
During both types of cupping, a flammable substance such as alcohol, herbs, or paper is placed in a cup and set on fire. As the fire goes out, the cup is placed upside down on the patient’s skin. As the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum. This causes the skin to rise and redden as vessels expand. The cup is generally left in place for five to 10 minutes.
A more modern version of cupping uses a rubber pump to create the vacuum inside the cup. Sometimes practitioners use medical-grade silicone cups. These are pliable enough to be moved from place to place on the skin and produce a like effect.
During wet cupping, a mild suction is created using a cup that is left in place for about three minutes. The practitioner then removes the cup and uses a small scalpel to make superficial skin incisions. Then he or she performs a second suction to draw out a small quantity of blood.
After the procedure, the site may be covered with an antibiotic ointment and bandage to prevent infection. The skin’s appearance generally returns to normal within 10 days.
Cupping therapy supporters believe that wet cupping removes harmful substances and toxins from the body to promote healing.
Benefits of Cupping Therapy
Cupping therapy can treat a variety of conditions. This has not been backed up by studies, but cupping therapy is used to treat:
- Blood disorders such as anemia and hemophilia
- Rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
- Fertility and gynecological disorders
- Skin problems such as eczema and acne
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Anxiety and depression
- Bronchial congestion caused by allergies and asthma
- Varicose veins
Supporters also believe that cupping therapy can reduce pain and inflammation throughout the body. And they say it can promote mental and physical relaxation and well-being.
Side Effects of Cupping Therapy
Cupping is considered to be relatively safe, especially when performed by trained health professionals. Potential side effects include Mild discomfort, Burns, Bruises or Skin Infection.
Cupping therapy should be avoided by Pregnant or menstruating women, people with cancer that has spread from one part of the body to another, people with bone fractures or muscle spasms.
Cupping therapy should not be applied to sites on the body that have Deep Vein Thrombosis, Ulcers, an artery or pulse that can be felt.