Medicine is a constantly evolving field. While searching for better, more efficacious treatments and preventions, many practitioners and patients look toward more traditional therapies. Cupping therapy has been used as far back as ancient Egypt, China, and the Middle East. While looked on with speculation by Western medicine, Eastern traditions believe that cupping therapy has a beneficial effect in many areas.
What is cupping?
The therapy involves cups of glass, bamboo, or earthenware suctioned to the skin by either heat or a mechanical device like a pump. This suction promotes blood flow into the area of suction. There are two types of cupping: dry cupping which is suction only and wet cupping which involves suction and controlled medical bleeding. Eastern practitioners believe this increased blood flow draws out toxins and pathogens, and restores energy flow to that area.
What are the benefits?
To date, cupping therapy has few research studies to prove its effectiveness, but clinical and anecdotal evidence suggests that this therapy is helpful in a wide variety of conditions. Cupping has been used to treat conditions as mild as a cold to more serious ailments such as blood disorders and rheumatic diseases. Practitioners of this therapy proclaim its effectiveness in various skin conditions such as acne and varicose veins, and in pain management. Cupping has also been used to treat high blood pressure, migraines, anxiety and depression. However, Western medicine denies any improvements as merely a placebo effect, a belief by the patient that they will feel better.
Are there side effects?
Cupping therapy is generally safe, especially when performed by trained professionals. Some people may experience mild discomfort and bruising. Accidental burns and skin infections are more rare side effects, usually seen in cases where the practitioner is inexperienced. Cupping therapy is not recommended in people with deep vein thrombosis or skin ulcerations.
As an alternative medicine, cupping therapy has a long history and tradition. Though more modern practitioners view it with skepticism, it’s hard to ignore the many testimonials of patients with improved health. Because of its non-invasive nature and few side effects, cupping therapy is at least a viable avenue to explore for anyone seeking alternative medicine.