Cupping to Boost Healing and Vitality
Cupping therapy is becoming increasingly prevalent among celebrities and professional athletes—to name a few: Michael Phelps, Jennifer Aniston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie, Justin Bieber, and the latest star to indulge in cupping therapy, actress Kaley Cuoco.
So, what is cupping? And why are celebrities and so many others scrambling to get it?
Cupping is the ancient medical practice of applying a cup to a specific area of the body, typically a muscular area, and creating a local suction by pushing air out or by heating a sealed area inside the cup. Once the cup is placed on a suctioned area, it is then left on for 5-15 minutes, or the practitioner may glide the cup around the local area of the patient’s body.
The purposes of creating a suctioned area in cupping therapy are to create a relaxation of the muscles and local tissues, break adhesions in the connective tissues that surround the muscles, increase flexibility, promote circulation of the blood to the area to accelerate healing, and enhance the healing process in combination with acupuncture treatment for various pain disorders.1-3
Presently, cupping therapy is used in over 60 countries, and more than 300 studies on cupping therapy can be found in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Library of Medicine (Pubmed) databases. Cupping is employed to treat various health conditions, such as musculoskeletal pain, infections, headaches, high blood pressure, respiratory disorders, digestive issues, infertility and skin disorders1-8. In the early 1900s, Dr. William Olser, recognized as the “Father of Modern Medicine” and one of the founders of Johns Hopkins Hospital, advised cupping for the treatment of bronchopneumonia and acute myelitis.2
In 2015, a systematic review and meta-analysis concluded that “cupping could be effective in treating the pain and disability associated with chronic neck pain and chronic low-back pain in the short term.”4 More recently, in 2017, a crossover study comparing the effects of muscle-stretching exercise versus cupping therapy on pain thresholds and cervical range of motion (ROM) and angle concluded that “cupping treatment is more effective in improving ROM of the cervical spine and pain thresholds” and advised that therapy should be “one of the treatment options for pain and ROM impairments of the cervical spine.”9-10 Another study, conducted on females who were between 7-14 weeks pregnant, found that cupping therapy produced “significant reduction in the frequency of nausea and vomiting” and it improved their “quality of life.”1
One question people often ask about cupping is, “What are those circular red/purple marks on the skin?” The answer is that the suction from the cups draws stagnant blood from deeper tissues to the surface, allowing healthier, oxygenated blood to more freely circulate. The more toxins and stagnant blood present in someone’s tissues, the more deeply colored any markings that arise will be. Some people show no visible signs on their skin after cupping, but most people do. These marks are not bruises or any indication of damage, but rather a sign that healing is taking place through the movement of stagnant fluids.
If you would like more information on cupping or to schedule a consultation or cupping session, please contact us for an appointment.
1. Dharmananda, S. (1999, March). Cupping. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from http://www.itmonline.org/arts/cupping.htm
2. Reddy, B. (2017). Science of Cupping. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from http://www.nccaom.org/science-of-cupping/
3. Cao, H., Zhu, X., & Liu, J. (2015). An overview of systematic reviews of clinical evidence for cupping therapy. Journal of Traditional Chinese Medical Sciences, 2, 3-10. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcms.2014.11.012
4. Yuan Q-l, Guo T-m, Liu L, Sun F, Zhang Y-g (2015) Traditional Chinese Medicine for Neck Pain and Low Back Pain: A Systematic Review and Meta- Analysis. PLoS ONE 10(2): e0117146. doi:10.1371/ journal.pone.0117146
5. Ge, W., Leson, C., & Vukovic, C. (2017). Dry cupping for plantar fasciitis: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Physical Therapy Science, 29(5), 859-862. doi:10.1589/jpts.29.859
6. Zhang, Y., Cao, H., Li, X., Yang, X., Lai, B., Yang, G., & Liu, J. (2017). Cupping therapy versus acupuncture for pain-related conditions: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and trial sequential analysis. Chinese Medicine, 12(1). doi:10.1186/s13020-017-0142-0
7. Klepikov, I. (2017). Cupping therapy in the 21st century? – Why not!? Journal of General and Emergency Medicine, 2(5).
8. Dalton EL, Velasquez BJ. Cupping therapy: An alternative method of treating pain. Public Health Open J. 2017; 2(2): 59-63. doi: 10.17140/ PHOJ-2-122
9. Markowski, A., Sanford, S., Pikowski, J., Fauvell, D., Cimino, D., & Caplan, S. (2014). A Pilot Study Analyzing the Effects of Chinese Cupping as an Adjunct Treatment for Patients with Subacute Low Back Pain on Relieving Pain, Improving Range of Motion, and Improving Function. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(2), 113-117. doi:10.1089/acm.2012.0769
10. Yim, J., Park, J., Kim, H., Woo, J., Joo, S., Lee, S., & Song, J. (2017). Comparison of the effects of muscle stretching exercises http://crossmark.crossref.org/dialog/?doi=10.14474/ptrs.2017.6.2.83&domain=pdf&date_stamp=2017-6-25 and cupping therapy on pain thresholds, cervical range of motion and angle: a cross-over study. Physical Therapy Rehabilitation Science, 6(2), 83-89. doi:https://doi.org/10.14474/ptrs.2017.6.2.83
11. Mohamed, E. (2017). Effect of Dry Cupping in Treatment of Nausea and Vomiting during Pregnancy. British Journal of Applied Science & Technology, 21(3), 1-6. doi:10.9734/bjast/2017/33684
12. Kim, K. H., Kim, T., Hwangbo, M., & Yang, G. Y. (2012). Anaemia and skin pigmentation after excessive cupping therapy by an unqualified therapist in Korea: a case report: Figure 1. Acupuncture in Medicine, 30(3), 227-228. doi:10.1136/acupmed-2012-010185
13. Reza, Mohammad & vaez Mahdavi, Mohammad Reza & Ghazanfari, Tooba & Aghajani, Marjan & Danyali, Farideh & Naseri, Mohsen. (2012). Evaluation of the Effects of Traditional Cupping on the Biochemical, Hematological and Immunological Factors of Human Venous Blood. A Compendium of Essays on Alternative Therapy.