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Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes including to help with pain inflammation blood flow relaxation and well-being and as a type of deep-tissue massage.
The cups may be made of:
Cupping therapy might be trendy now but it’s not new. It dates back to ancient Egyptian Chinese and Middle Eastern cultures. One of the oldest medical textbooks in the world the Ebers Papyru describes
how the ancient Egyptians used cupping therapy in 1550 B.C.Types
There are different methods of cupping including:
During both types of cupping your therapist will put a flammable substance such as alcohol herbs or paper in a cup and set it on fire. As the fire goes out he puts the cup upside down on your skin. As the air inside the cup cools it creates a vacuum. This causes your skin to rise and redden as your blood vessels expand. The cup is
generally left in place for up to 3 minutes A more modern version of cupping uses a rubber pump instead of fire
to create the vacuum inside the cup. Sometimes therapists use silicone cups which they can move from place to place on your skin for a massage-like effect. Wet cupping creates a mild suction by leaving a cup in place for about 3 minutes. The therapist then removes the cup and uses a small scalpel to make light tiny cuts on your skin. Next he or she does a second suction to draw out a small quantity of blood. You might get 3-5 cups in your first session. Or you might just try one to see how it goes. It’s rare to get more than 5-7 cups the British Cupping Society notes Afterward you may get an antibiotic ointment and bandage to prevent
infection. Your skin should look normal again within 10 days Cupping therapy supporters believe that wet cupping removes harmful substances and toxins from the body to promote healing. But that’s not
proven Some people also get “needle cupping” in which the therapist first inserts acupuncture needles and then puts cups over them.
What Does the Research Show?
There haven’t been many scientific studies on cupping.One report published in 2015 in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine notes that it could help with acne herpes zoster and pain management. That’s similar to the findings from a 2012 report published in PLoS One. Australian and Chinese researchers reviewed 135 studies on cupping.They concluded that cupping therapy may be effective when people also get other treatments like acupuncture or medications for various
diseases and conditions such as:
• Herpes zoster
• Facial paralysis
• Cervical spondylosis
But those researchers noted many of the studies they reviewed could
have been biased and that better studies are needed.
The British Cupping Society says that cupping therapy is used to treat:
– Blood disorders such as anemia and hemophiliaand depression
– Rheumatic diseases such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
– Fertility and gynecological disorders
– Skin problems such as eczema and acne
– High blood pressure
– Bronchial congestion caused by allergies and asthma
– Varicose veins
There isn’t research to back all of that up.
Cupping is fairly safe as long as you go to a trained health professional But you could have these side effects in the area where the cups touch
– Mild discomfort
– Skin infection
What to Ask Your Doctor First
Talk with your doctor before you start cupping or any other type of alternative or complementary medicine. And talk extensively with your
cupping therapist too before you try it. Ask:
– What conditions do they use cupping for?
– What is your training?
– What is your experience in using it?
– Am I already getting the standard treatments for my condition?
– Are there reasons I should not get cupping?