The use of cupping dates back to the Egyptians in 1500 BC. It then spread to the Greeks, and Chinese, who also used it extensively. In time, cupping spread through Europe, and finally to America. The ancient method involved heating the cups with fire or boiling water and placing them onto the skin. The cooling of the air inside the cup created a vacuum which then lead to increased blood flow as the vessels expanded. Cups were generally kept on the skin for 5-10 minutes. One of the first uses for cupping in China was to treat pulmonary tuberculosis. In time, cupping was used for a variety of ailments, including fever, vertigo and pain. Other names for cupping include “horning,” “needle horn,” “sucking method,” and “fire-cupping.”
Methods of Cupping
Originally, practitioners used cups made out of a variety of materials including:
• hollow animal horns
While many experts still rely on the older style cups, cupping can also be combined with massage, and in that case silicone cups might be used, as their flexibility allows for easier movement. Currently, popular methods of cupping include dry cupping, wet cupping, and fire cupping. Dry cupping relies on suction, while wet cupping, uses suction and incorporates controlled medicinal bleeding. Wet cupping is believed to remove harmful substances and toxins. In fire cupping, an alcohol soaked cotton ball is lit on fire, put into the cup momentarily, and when it is removed the cup is then placed onto the body.
Benefits of Cupping
Cupping is thought to increase blood flow in the treated area and encourage healing. Recent research has shown that the method can reduce pain in areas such as the back, neck, wrists and knees. Cupping is also thought to relieve symptoms of ailments including flu, colds, coughs, poor circulation, allergies, and psychological conditions like anxiety and depression. Research also suggests that when treating certain diseases like Herpes zoster, acne, facial paralysis and cervical spondylosis it is most effective to use a combination of cupping and acupuncture. In acupuncture cupping acupuncture needles are inserted into the body and then the cups are placed on top.