cupping therapy

Blood cupping therapy is trending nowadays because of the Rio Olympics 2016, where you must have observed round red circles across the body of athletes including gymnast Alex Naddour, American swimmer Natalie Coughlin and Micheal Phelps-Olympian with the most number of gold medals. Red circles all over the skin of Phelps that were seen in this season of Rio Olympics were due to blood cupping therapy.

This ancient method was used by Chinese. Chinese therapy was introduced in 300 B.C and from that time cupping has been proved as a beneficial therapy for human body and is being practiced. It is also termed “Hijama” which is an Arabic word meaning ‘drawing out.’ Prophet Muhammad also laid emphasis on cupping and rendered it as a cure to many diseases.

This technique is not only limited to Olympics even world famous celebs are benefitting from this method including Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Jennifer Aniston and recommended it.

How Does it Work?

According to researchers 70% of the body diseases occur due to improper blood circulation which causes damage to the vital organs resulting in illness. With the passage of time the blood in our vessels starts to accumulate harmful toxins. If such toxins are not eliminated from the body they will make a person more prone to the diseases and it is less likely that the individual will recover rapidly. So these therapies works by sucking these toxins and unwanted blood from the body that is no longer required, leading towards paired circulation. Moreover it is a non-invasive and cheap method of curing different diseases.

There are various ways to perform it. In this therapy individual cups are placed on the skin by a therapist for few minutes, as a result suction is created. Different varieties of cups are used in cupping treatment i.e. Glass, Bamboo, Earthen ware and silicone. Method that is most traditionally used comprises of glass cup in which burning cotton bud or herb is placed, when the burning cotton bud cools down it creates a vacuum.

Cupping therapy is further divided into three categories which include:

  • Wet cupping
  • Dry cupping
  • Fire cupping

Wet cupping

Wet cupping is also known as Chinese bloodletting. In this method blood is drawn from the skin of a person that is why it is given the name ‘wet cupping’.

This technique removes “stagnant” blood from a person’s body. Firstly cups are applied for few minutes to create suction and then small incisions are made. Afterward, cups are used again and again to draw any poisonous or stagnant blood into the cups.

Dry cupping

In this method, blood is drawn out from the body because no incisions are made. Cups having 1 to 3 inches diameter are applied over the skin to create suction. Dry cupping provides a massage-like an effect. Mostly silicone cups are used in the dry cupping technique.

Now therapist prefers silicone cups over other because they can be used easily over areas having sensitive skin like face and cause fewer bruises.

Fire Cupping

Fire cupping provides a person a form of deep tissue massage.

There are two techniques of fire cupping. The practitioner can put a cotton ball into alcohol, ignite the cotton ball and then rapidly put it inside a cup, after few seconds burning cotton ball is removed from the cup and cup is applied to the skin. In another method practitioner does not use cotton ball, they simply apply coat of alcohol inside the cup, then lighten it up and apply to skin.

Due to fire, air is removed from the cup and suction is created. Sometimes practitioners apply oil to the skin of a person before cups are placed to from a firm seal.

benefits of cupping therapy

Cupping Therapy Benefits:

There is an infinite list of advantages.

  • It is traditionally practiced for the purpose of detoxification of the blood.
  • Other benefits include the treatment of the primary circulatory diseases, pain, cough, backache problems, infertility, and cancer, etc.
  • However, Olympians are using this because it is believed that it can cause the increase in the blood level as well as nutrient supply to the muscles of the body.

Is This Therapy a Safe Approach?

Fire cupping therapy results in red round marks. From word fire it comes in one’s mind that is this technique painful? The answer is “NO”. This method is not painful. Then next question arises that does this technique has any side effect? The general answer is “NO” again. This method has been proved beneficial and standard procedure should be followed to prevent any significant side effect. Minor side effects that can occur include mild discomfort, burns, bruices, swelling and skin infection.

Wet cupping if not done results in adverse side effects properly, due to this issue it has been declared illegal in California, America.

Is This Therapy Proving Beneficial?

Is this treatment proving beneficial to the athletes or it’s just in their brains? It is still an unanswered question.

It is a common practice for athletes to give a try to new therapies and treatments that can relieve pain. In 2008 and 2012, athletes were seen with a bright adhesive tape on their shoulders, backs, and abs. This tape was known as Kinesio tape; a Japanese citizen developed this claiming that it can reduce pain, and it can support muscles as well.

Similarly, in 2009, copper bracelets were seen in athletes arm. They wore those bracelets with the belief that it would improve their performance.

A thorough research needs to be done on this therapy to find the benefits and potentials threat of this method.

Side effects of Cupping Therapy

The major issue of this therapy is that there is no standardization. No rules and regulations are specified by any centralized body. Currently, this therapy is done by individuals who are from massaging profession or other similar lower medical profession.According to experts, people with certain diseases such as hypertension i.e. elevated blood pressure and diabetes should avoid cupping therapy.


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