What you need to know about cupping therapy

Cupping therapy goes way back to ancient Chinese medicinal practices, but it has been gaining popularity today. It is a form of acupuncture that uses cups instead of needles, which are made from different materials, such as bamboo, silicone, plastic, and glass.

During a cupping session, around three to five cups are placed onto different parts of the body, most commonly the back and shoulders, by a cupping therapist. For first-timers, only one or two cups are used. The cups are suctioned onto the skin and left on for three to five minutes. Then, the cupping therapist will either remove or put them to a different area.

The force of the suction will break some small blood vessels, forming welts. This process is believed to create health benefits. The cups are said to increase blood flow, reducing pain and stimulating an immune response. In Chinese hospitals, cupping therapy is a standard treatment for various health conditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it was believed to enhance energy and blood flow throughout the body. Listed below are some of the health benefits of cupping therapy:

It relieves pain: Olympians like Michael Phelps often use cupping therapy for pain management. A review of studies revealed that cupping therapy can reduce pain better than heat therapy, usual care, or conventional drugs. Some studies also reported that it could relieve knee, neck, and shoulder pain. Researchers believe that the suction from cupping enhances blood flow to the areas affected by intense exercise, stress, or chronic injuries, which can relieve swelling, aches, and pains. A German study looked at the effect of cupping therapy on fibromyalgia sufferers and found that those who received the therapy reported less fibromyalgia-related pain. (Related: Michael Phelps uses Chinese cupping therapy to loosen muscles, encourage blood flow at Rio Olympics.)

It stimulates the body’s immune response: Some scientists believe that cupping can stimulate the body’s immune response, which promotes accelerated recovery among high-level athletes. Some researchers also believe that the local inflammation caused by cupping might trigger the immune system to produce cytokines – tiny proteins that boost communication between cells and help regulate the immune response. Moreover, activating the immune system is said to stimulate mechanosensitive fibers, which results in minimized pain.

It aids in treating certain health conditions: A review of 135 studies on cupping therapy revealed that this ancient healing technique, together with other treatments like acupuncture or medication, may be effective in treating certain health conditions, such as acne, cervical spondylosis, facial paralysis, and shingles. A study published in the Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine in 2015 also found similar outcomes.

It supports respiratory health: Cupping therapy can also provide respiratory health benefits, clearing congestion from a common cold or relieving asthma.

It is good for the skin: It has a detoxifying effect on the skin that improves skin color, which can be seen after three to five sessions.

It supports digestive health: Cupping is also good for the digestive system. It can improve metabolism, promote a healthy appetite, and relieve constipation, as well as aid in digestion.

Based on review studies, cupping therapy is well-tolerated by people and does not cause any serious side effects. However, people who are pregnant, have a serious health condition or any other concerns should seek a medical professional first before trying cupping.

Read more news stories and studies on cupping therapy by going to ChineseMedicine.news.

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