Cupping Therapy - Traditional Chinese Technique [VIDEO]

Dating back 5,000 years, the therapy is a form of acupuncture, and is based on the idea that suct...

Cupping Therapy - Traditional Chinese Technique

Dating back 5,000 years, the therapy is a form of acupuncture, and is based on the idea that suction from the cups draws the skin up and mobilises blood and energy around the body.

‘If someone is under stress, or they’ve suffered a physical trauma like a pulled shoulder, the energy in their body can become stagnated,’ explains Ian Stones, an acupuncturist in Farnham, Surrey, and member of the British Acupuncture Council, who has been practising cupping for six years.

‘Cupping enables the blood and energy to move again and travel to the area to begin the healing process.

‘It can also have good results if someone is coming down with a cold. The suction can help to stop the cold penetrating further into the system.’
Cupping Therapy - Traditional Chinese Technique

Typically, a flame is first placed inside a glass or rubber cup, so the heat can create a partial vacuum, before the flame is removed and the cup held to the skin for about three minutes.

Although the resulting marks can look alarming, they are temporary, and this kind of cupping should not hurt in any way as the cups used are thick-rimmed and do not heat up.

Other forms of cupping — which costs around £50 per session — involve using a sort of suction kit, so no flame is needed.

Cupping Therapy - Traditional Chinese Technique
Chinese blood cupping therapy can cause bruising at the suction sites; but, in this photograph it’s clear that the blood cupping therapy has gone awry, leaving painful blisters filled with blood serum.

Many medical experts are scathing, and warn that fads such as this can become dangerous if people start to use them in place of seeing their GP.

‘Cupping doesn’t make any sense at all,’ says David Colquhoun, professor of pharmacology at University College London.

‘Bleeding was part of mainstream medicine in the 18th century, until they found out it was harmful rather than helpful.
‘Putting a suction cup on the body may cause the skin to constrict and there could be some increased blood flow, but the idea that this could treat any medical condition is laughable.

‘It’s utterly implausible and just another ingenious way of relieving the rich and gullible of their money.’

Unfortunately, he continues, too many people expect every ailment to be curable.

‘There are many medical conditions — back pain being one of them — that we can’t do much about, or even find out what the cause is. That’s sad, but spending thousands on something as daft as cupping won’t help.’

A review of 135 studies on cupping therapy, published last year in the journal PLOS ONE, found that cupping may be effective on conditions such as acne, facial paralysis and herpes when combined with other treatments such as acupuncture.

However, the researchers acknowledged that some of the studies in their review may have contained bias, and said more research was needed.

Acupuncturist Ian Stones says he has seen significant results from cupping, adding that the technique is almost always used as part of a larger package of acupuncture treatment, which could explain why there may not be substantial research on its effects as an isolated therapy yet.

However, Edvard Ernst, a leading professor of complementary therapy, has little time for such claims.

In his book Trick Or Treatment?

Cupping Therapy - Traditional Chinese Technique

Alternative Medicine On Trial, he found that despite cupping’s long history, the only controlled trial on this treatment showed no reduction in pain.

He added that the fact the skin appears to be sucked into the cup as if ‘by magic’ means cupping is likely to generate an ‘above-average placebo response’.

Put simply, people are fooled by the seeming wizardry of the suction action into thinking that cupping must be doing something for them.

Professor Ernst says: ‘There is no good evidence that cupping helps any condition — except the dreaded condition of celebrities craving attention.’

A 24 years old young man performing Wet Cupping Therapy on his head (Step by Step)  



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