Cupping therapy is an ancient medical treatment that has been around for thousands of years and was commonly practised in the Middle and Far East. Recently, the practice in Europe has been revived by celebrities and elite sports athletes who feel strongly that cupping therapy improves their health and performance. The treatment itself works on the principle that creating local suction to an area of the body helps to mobilise blood flow and thereby promote healing.
Cupping therapy is usually categorised in to two types: Dry and Wet cupping therapy. In Dry cupping a cup is applied to the body and suction is applied; the cup stays on the skin for a short period of time before being removed. There are many variations of dry cupping with massage cupping (where a cup is applied to an oiled area of body and moved around) being the most common.
Wet cupping is a follow on procedure from dry cupping; after the cup is removed at the end of Dry cupping, small superficial incisions are made in the relevant area and the cup is reapplied with suction for a few minutes so that a very small amount of blood is extracted.
The exact mechanism of how cupping is therapeutically beneficial is still being researched. However, some of the proposed theories are that the local negative pressure that is created by suction provides a mechanical stimulus to reduce pain, encourages blood flow and removes disease causing pathogens and toxins; it can also activate the immune system and reduce inflammation.
Cupping therapy can be used to successfully treat a broad range of medical conditions. From musculoskeletal strains, sprains and spasms to endocrine and gynaecological conditions such as subfertility. It can also be used for symptoms that have a psycho-social basis such as lethargy, fatigue and low mood. Having cupping therapy for general well-being has also been practiced in many countries for many centuries. Some of the most frequent comments that we get from our patients is that after cupping therapy they feel ‘lighter’, more ‘energetic’ in the days after and sleep very well.
Dry massage cupping can be used in large areas that have suffered injuries such as post-stroke paralysis and is especially good for muscular problems such as spasms.
Any combination of dry and wet cupping can be used and patients can have any of the combination in the same session. Cupping therapy can be used in conjunction with conventional therapy, for example in conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis as it has also been shown to have immuno-modulatory benefits.
In short, cupping therapy is an ancient treatment the benefits of which are only beginning to be realised as more and more research proves its healing effects. When applied by a trained healthcare professional cupping therapy is a very safe procedure with minimal, if any, side effects. And as more evidence comes to light about its healing effects, cupping therapy should definitely be considered by doctors and patients alike in the management of modern illnesses.
Further details of Cupping Therapy can be found at British Cupping Society (BCS) website and on their social media: