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The Science of Cupping and Why You Should Try It

“Cupping” has been popular as a form of alternative medicine. However, only little is known if it really works and how does it help the human body. As commonly seen in athletes, they seem to enjoy getting this kind of therapy before the competition. Circular marks and bruises are left all over their body, and if you never heard of cupping, you’d probably wonder if they got suctioned by vast and giant octopuses.

traditional glass cups applied on the patients backCupping, like acupuncture, has been a part of the traditional Chinese medicine for years, and there are certain reasons as to why. Here are some of the things that specifically explains how cupping works and why you should start trying it now and schedule an acupuncture session — if you haven’t tried it for yourself yet.

Treatment – This form of therapy is widely used all over the world as it is believed and known to treat various health problems such as musculoskeletal pain, hypertension, headaches, respiratory conditions, skin problems, infections, and even infertility. In the early 1900’s, it was recommended by Dr. William Osler, a founder of the John Hopkins Hospital, that cupping is ideal for treating acute myelitis and bronchopneumonia.
Blood flow – One of the most popular benefits of cupping is the improvement of the blood circulation. The skin becomes rich in blood supply. Have you ever wondered why cupping left those visible marks? These bruises are evident because of the dilated capillaries which have then ruptured. It is somewhat similar to having a blood clot. It has been found that this results into rich blood supply.
The British Cupping Society – According to them, cupping therapy can also treat eczema, acne, anxiety, migraine, high blood pressure, depression, varicose veins, arthritis, anemia, fibromyalgia, and even bronchial congestions that are caused by asthma and allergies.
Types of Cupping – Technically, there are only a few types and techniques but more and more were developed and added.

  • Fire cupping comes from the very roots of Chinese tradition. Suction was made through lighting up a ball of cotton soaked in alcohol. At times, herbs and ointments used.
  • Another popular technique is wet cupping. This one dates back to Islamic history where it is widely called as “Hijama.” Technically, wet cuppingis a form of bloodletting or medicinal bleeding. Unlike the former, incisions are made through the skin, causing wounds using scalpel blades where it’s just enough to let the stagnant and toxic blood flow out of the skin. After this, antibiotics are provided, and wounds are well wrapped up in bandages to avoid any infection. Up to this day, wet cupping is still popular in the Muslim world.
  • A newly developed form of cupping has been created known as “Needle Cupping.” It’s an ingenious way of combining acupuncture and cupping at the same time. Before putting in the cup for suction, a needle is placed on specific body points. This would then remain inside the cup from three (3) to five (5) minutes. Another version of this is the “Wet Needle Cupping” where a specifically designed cup is used. This one is actually like a combination of the three. A needle is already placed inside the cup, put on the body like acupuncture and while the cup is well secure, blood is also sucked out of the wound that is punctured by the needle.

Phelps with cupping marks on his shoulderDespite the evident results and benefits of cupping, lots of us are still in doubt. Others would even suggest that alternative medicine is nothing but pseudoscience and placebo effect. It is up to your own judgment whether you believe that this is true or otherwise. What I am certain of is that none of us can entirely rule out the effects of cupping because only a few records or research are available.

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