This patient was kind enough to give us permission to share photos of her skin after she underwent a treatment commonly referred to as cupping. So, what exactly is cupping and why do people voluntarily subject themselves to procedures which cause bruises like this?
Cupping is an ancient form of alternative medicine that involves placing cups on the skin to create suction. This practice has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern medicine to treat a wide range of health conditions. In recent years, cupping has gained popularity in the Western world, particularly among athletes seeking to alleviate muscle soreness and improve performance. In this blog post, we will explore the origins and benefits of cupping, as well as the various types of cupping and potential risks.
Origins of Cupping
The earliest recorded use of cupping dates back to the ancient Egyptians around 1500 BCE. The practice was also popular among the Greeks and Romans, who believed it could be used to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, back pain, and arthritis. In traditional Chinese medicine, cupping was used to balance the flow of qi (pronounced “chee”) or energy in the body. Cupping was also used in Middle Eastern medicine to treat respiratory diseases, such as bronchitis and asthma.
Benefits of Cupping
Proponents of cupping claim that it can offer numerous health benefits.
- Pain relief: Cupping is believed to increase blood flow to the affected area, which can help to reduce pain and promote healing.
- Improved circulation: The suction created by the cups can help to stimulate the flow of blood and lymphatic fluid, which can improve circulation and boost the immune system.
- Relaxation: Many people find cupping to be a relaxing and calming experience, which can help to reduce stress and anxiety.
- Improved athletic performance: Cupping is becoming increasingly popular among athletes as a way to relieve muscle soreness and improve performance.
Types of Cupping
There are several different types of cupping, including:
- Dry cupping: This is the most common form of cupping, which involves placing cups on the skin and creating a vacuum by either heating the air inside the cup or using a pump. The cups are typically left in place for 5-15 minutes.
- Wet cupping: This involves creating small incisions in the skin before placing the cups, allowing a small amount of blood to be drawn out. Wet cupping is not recommended in the Western world due to the risk of infection.
- Fire cupping: This is a traditional form of cupping that involves using fire to create a vacuum in the cups before placing them on the skin. Fire cupping is not recommended in the Western world due to the risk of burns.
While cupping is generally considered safe when performed by a trained practitioner, there are some potential risks to be aware of.
- Skin irritation: The suction created by the cups can cause mild to moderate skin irritation, such as redness or bruising.
- Burns: Fire cupping can cause burns if the cups are not properly heated or placed on the skin.
- Infection: Wet cupping can increase the risk of infection if the incisions are not properly cleaned and cared for.
- Bruising: Cupping can cause bruising, particularly if the cups are left in place for an extended period of time.
In conclusion, cupping is an ancient form of alternative medicine that has gained popularity in the Western world in recent years. Proponents of cupping claim that it can offer numerous health benefits, including pain relief, improved circulation, relaxation, and improved athletic performance. However, it is important to be aware of the potential risks and to only receive cupping from a trained practitioner. If you are considering cupping as a form of treatment, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider to determine if it is right for you.