What is the benefit of cupping therapy? Cupping therapy was originally a form of alternative medicine that arose mainly in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Mostly considered a health fraud. In cupping therapy, heated cups are used to apply suction to a selected area of the skin. When the air inside the cup cools it creates a vacuum that tends to make your skin red as your blood vessels start expanding. The cup is generally left there for 3-5 minutes. This has been dated back as far as the ancient Egyptians, it’s a regular practice in Chinese hospitals.
Benefits of cupping
It has been claimed to cure:
- Poor appetite
- High blood pressure
- Facial paralysis
There are mainly 3 types of cupping therapy in modern times, others exist but these are the most popular:
1. Wet cupping therapy
In which a small incision is made on the skin to draw out blood. This method is also called Hijama and it’s a popular remedy in most Islamic nations. Wet cupping is also a practice used by the people of Finland. From the 15th century to the present, traditionally done in saunas. The cups used to be made out of cattle horns with some sort of valve to produce a small amount of suction by sucking out the air. It’s still practiced in Finland as a health regime.
2. Dry cupping therapy
Dry cupping is rooted also in Chinese medicine. During dry cupping, the cups are placed around the body and lifted with a vacuum to create the suction effect to provide an upward stretch to the muscles and the skin. Dry cupping is claimed to relieve pain and increase the Qi flow in our bodies, according to Chinese belief.
Although seen as Traditional Chinese medicine and as a recommendation by many, cupping therapy doesn’t provide us with enough evidence for its claim to heal our bodies. It’s regarded still as a pseudoscience like acupuncture which is also considered traditional Chinese medicine.
This treatment came back after thousands of years in the modern world after being popularized by athletes and bodybuilders alike. Observing the red and bruised welts on their backs, many people began to question what exactly cupping therapy was. Some people may benefit from this traditional treatment, but there is currently no clear way to assess what benefits this offers us specifically.
3. Fire cupping therapy
When doing fire cupping, a cotton ball is soaked in alcohol, held in place with forceps, set on fire, and then swiftly removed from the cup. Resulting in the fire consuming up all the oxygen in the cup and placing it on the skin where the cup “sucks” up the skin. This is the most popular way of cupping therapy in modern times. Its been popularized by many basketball players and UFC fighters. They claim that it helps in recovery from muscle soreness, and often improves their performance before a match or a round in the octagon. Oils can be used to improve suction and seal, as well as to make the cups slide more freely so they can move around and massage particular muscle areas.
The cons of cupping therapy are
- Skin ulcers
- Skin discoloration
- May have the tendency to worsen Eczema, psoriasis
- Anemia from blood loss
- And the risk of infection
Fluid deficient people are recommended to stay away from any method of cupping wet or dry. After the treatment you should avoid drinking caffeine and alcohol, also it’s not recommended to indulge in sugary food as this slows down the process of being treated. You should also avoid really hot and very cold temperatures as the skin on your body becomes more sensitive where the cups were placed, intense exercise should also be avoided. The thing that you should do after the treatment is to drink lots of water, rest as you’ll be feeling very tired, and try to stay warm (not too warm as mentioned above).
The discoloration for some may fade away in hours while for others it takes as long as weeks to completely disappear. Some say discoloration is the health of your body while being in therapy. Everybody’s body reacts differently to cupping, if side effects worsen consider consulting with your doctor.
Surely the side effects aren’t as great as the benefits, but with no real basis to prove these claims of improving health and Qi the benefits don’t outweigh the risk of the side effects.
Cupping should most be used to provide a relaxation of the muscles and relief from soreness at most. All the other benefits floating around this treatment should be regarded as not researched enough to prove it.