What Is Cupping and What Are Its Benefits?

There’s an old cliché, “Everything that is old is new again.”  This can definitely be seen in the field of healthcare and treatment.  As more and more medical advancements are being made, it is of interest that many healthcare workers are returning to older forms of therapy and treatment for their patients.  One of these is “cupping therapy” which has become popular in the United States after having been used extensively in eastern countries such as China.

How does cupping work?

If your therapist decides to use cupping therapy with you, then he or she will use a series of cups that are usually made of glass but can also be earthenware or substances such as silicone.  A substance such as paper is placed inside of the cup and set on fire to begin heating the cup up.  As the fire goes out, the cup is then placed directly in contact with various points on the patient’s skin.  As the heat subsides and the glass cools, a vacuum will form inside of the cup.  This will cause the blood vessels in the skin to expand and the skin will be “sucked up” into the cup as the suction forms.  The cup is left in place for about three minutes and then removed.  If the cup is left in place too long or if the health professional does not properly place the cup, it can lead to bruising and skin problems.  If the cup is heated too rapidly before being placed, it can also, in rare cases, lead to mild burns on the skin.

What are the benefits of cupping?

Cupping has been used to treat a variety of medical issues, including herpes, acne, facial paralysis, and cervical spondylosis.  It has also been recommended as a treatment for migraine headaches and other stress-related ailments including high blood pressure, anxiety, and depression.  In addition to these areas, the practice has been used to treat pain for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.  Olympic gold medalist and swimmer Michael Phelps brought attention to the practice when he revealed that he used cupping therapy to help his sore muscles relax quicker so that he had less downtime during his intense training sessions.  Other ailments that cupping therapy has been used to treat include eczema, asthma, allergies, varicose veins, and even infertility.

As Western medicine makes significant strides with different therapies and treatments, many doctors and naturopaths are turning to older, traditional treatments such as cupping.  As more research is done in these fields, it is becoming more and more apparent about how this form of treatment can benefit a modern society.