Cupping Therapy has been around for thousand of years. It developed over time from the original use of hollowed out animal horns to treat boils and suck out toxins of snake bites and skin lesions. Horns slowly evolved into bamboo cups, which were eventually replaced by glass. Therapeutic applications evolved with the refinement of the cup itself, and with the cultures that used cupping as a health care system.
Both the Chinese and Egyptians used Cupping therapy. In fact the Egyptians introduced cupping to the ancient Greeks, where Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine advocated cupping as a remedy for almost every type of disease.
The Chinese expanded the use of cupping and after extensive research a collaborative effort between the former Soviet Union and China confirmed the clinical efficacy of cupping therapy.
Fifty years ago district nurses in the UK used cupping in mining areas as means of clearing mucus from the lungs.
In 2004 cupping re-emerged as a hot celebrity trend when Gwyneth Paltrow appeared at the New York film festival with fresh cupping marks on her back. Further celebrities followed suit such as Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian. In 2016 Rio Olympics swimmer Michael Phelps was spotted with cupping marks and his trainer claimed cupping helped speed up the healing of overworked muscles.
So what is cupping useful for?
Research shows that cupping increases the blood circulation, it activates the immune system and stimulates the mechanosensitive fibres thus leading to a reduction in pain.
There is scientific evidence that dry cupping is able to reduce musculoskeletal pain.
It is particularly effective at relaxing the tension and tightness in the upper back muscles and the shoulders.
Is Cupping suitable for all?
Cupping is a safe and effective treatment when performed by a trained therapist but it is not suitable for those who are frail, have chronic fatigue, during pregnancy, have a compromised immune system and have a medical condition that the application of heat would be contraindicated.