Cupping is all the rage these days. Everyone wants to know what it is and how it works. If it is actually beneficial is another query which everyone asks.

Especially, since the athletes have shown off their cupping marks in the recent Olympics, everyone want to get cupping done.

Cupping may seem like a new invention especially since we saw lots of athletes having those weird circles on their bodies, but it is a very ancient method of treating multiple diseases and has been around since centuries. It is believed that it has its roots in the Chinese medicine. It is also has a mention in a book by a Taoist herbalist, Ge Hong in one of his books which dates back to as early as 341 A.D.

However, many researchers believe that it is the ancient Greeks while others believe that the ancient Egyptians are the pioneers of cupping.

Ebers Papyrus, an ancient book on medicine even mentions cupping as a form of treatment to many problems as well. But whoever it is, cupping has indeed come back with a strong impact in the modern times as well.

Cupping Therapy Instructions

What Exactly is Cupping ?

The procedure gets its name from the cups which are used for creating a vacuum to draw out all the dirty blood from inside your body. These cups are placed at certain pressure points on your back and are used to draw out the blood. Mostly silicone and plastic cups are used for this procedure/ these cups have an attached hand pump which helps in the easy removing of the air from the cups. Several small slits are made with the help of sterilized needles so that blood can be easily drawn by placing the cups on them for creating a vacuum.

What Are the Cups Made of

Although commonly we see cupping being done with cups mostly made out of plastic or silicone, there are actually mane materials which are used for making these cups. You can find cups for cupping made from bamboo, glass, earthenware as well as silicone. Basically the different materials of cups have been in use since ages as silicone was invented quite later. Even studies have shown that during the very ancient times, animal horns were used for cupping. People used to draw out blood and even infectious puss from the body. While cupping was done to heal a lot of medical issues back in those times, it was also done to restore energy in the body by releasing the toxins.

Why People Go for Cupping

Cupping is great for getting rid of arthritis, joints and muscular pains and even something as simple as common cold. Many people get cupping done for removing harmful toxins out from their body. There are, however, many anecdotal advantages related to cupping, and those who have benefitted from it swear by it. Another reason why people find cupping helpful is because it relaxes your body. it has got minimum to no side effects, and you feel relaxed when the toxins are actually released from your body.

How Does Cupping Work

Cupping, in general, works by removing the knots formed in the tension areas of the body. One of the basic reasons behind why it is so popular among athletes is because several muscles tie up in the form of knots when they have to go through extremely hard training.

So when the athletes undergo cupping, those knots are drawn up by the cups and then broken up for releasing tension. You can say that in this way, cupping can actually treat depression and anxiety as well, and is somehow a bit similar to acupuncture.

Types of Cupping

There are many different types of cups which are used for this procedure involving different techniques. Here are the three most popular techniques of cupping which are being used these days. In all the methods, mostly 3 to 5 cups are placed on the pressure points initially. Some therapists even start by placing a single cup to see how the whole process goes about. Once you are done with a session, your therapist may place 5 to 7 cups. The cups placed create a vacuum on the skin to release the dirt blood from your body, which gets accumulated inside the cups which are placed for suction.

Cupping is such a vast form of treatment that there at least 10 procedures present through which it can be done. however, we are going to focus on the three procedures which are most commonly used by the therapists:

1. Dry Cupping

This is the very basic method of cupping. A cotton ball is soaked into some alcohol and is put inside the cup after being ignited. When the flame dies the cup is put on the targeted area. The cup produces a vacuum and thus the skin and the muscles are pulled inside it. The cup is left on the skin for a certain period of time depending upon why and who is doing the cupping. then the cup is carefully removed, the skin is cleaned and topical antibiotics are applied if necessary.

2. Wet Cupping

While the initial procedure of wet cupping is similar to its dry counterpart, the main difference is that when the cup is removed, after 3 minutes to be precise, a small incision is made with a sterile lancet on the targeted area. Another cup is placed on the incision to draw out the blood. This method is popular among those who want to remove harmful toxins from their body.

After your therapist is done with wet cupping, he may give you an antibiotic ointment so that your wounds may not get infected. It takes almost 10 days for your skin to return to its original form.

3. Stationary/Moving Cupping

In stationary cupping, cups remain in a particular area. While, as the name suggests, moving cupping involves sliding of the cups on various areas of the body for treatment. The vacuum still remains intact during moving cupping.

The sessions of cupping depends upon the nature of your disease and why you are going for it.

Is Cupping Painful

If cupping is anything, it is just weird. It is not at all painful and the weird sensation goes away once you get used to the procedure. Moreover, the initial feeling of uneasiness goes away when the muscles of your body are relieved and you get relaxed.

What Does Research Say About Cupping

Cupping is entirely alternative medicine and thus has got not many researches done on it. studies show that cupping alone cannot be much beneficial unless it is done along with acupuncture or combined with medication for whatever ailment you may have got.

When you get cupping done with proper medication and/or acupuncture, you can get treated for:

Facial Paralysis


Herpes Zoster

Cervical Spondylosis

However, many researchers have also found that cupping can treat issues like hemophilia and anemia. Orthopedic issues like arthritis and rheumatism can also be treated by regular sessions of cupping. If you are suffering from issues like migraine, depression or anxiety, getting cupping done regularly can be quite helpful in the long run.

Cupping is also known to treat certain fertility issues. For treating eczema and other skin related issues, you can also go for cupping. Varicose veins is another issue which can be treated through cupping, however there is no solid scientific evidence supporting it, this is why it is called alternative medicine. But, since cupping has not got any hazardous side effects, medical science does not stop you from getting it done.

Things to Ask Before Going for Cupping

You just cannot decide one day that you have got to get cupping done and go to a therapist. For cupping to be done, you need to do your complete homework and consult not just the therapist but your doctor as well.

Ask them under what conditions you should go for cupping. If you are suffering from certain ailment then do convey it to them and ask if cupping would be fine for you to get done. Ask the therapist about his/her experience and whether he/she has got proper training for that or not. Also, if you are already using some medication then do inform your therapist about that. In the end, also ask your doctor if cupping is totally safe for you or would it cause complications.

Has Cupping Got Any Side Effects

Cupping has got no life threatening side effects. The most important thing is that you should get it done by a professional instead of a newbie. The only side effects would occur on the areas where the cups will be placed. You may experience a slight discomfort on that area because of the creation of vacuum. Your skin may experience a slight burning sensation as well. Sometimes you may end up having a skin infection, but it can be treated by applying some topical antibiotics given by the therapist. Cupping may leave behind some bruises as well which diminish after 10 days or so.


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