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Cupping Therapy and its Application in Modern Science

Submitted by on October 23, 2014 – 2:51 AM

facial-cupping-therapy-mainCupping therapy is a form of alternative medicine which makes use of cups made of glass, earthenware or bamboo, placed on the skin to create suction. This suction mobilizes the blood circulation which aids in healing a broad range of medical ailments. It is considered to be one of the best deep-tissue therapies available, affecting the tissues up to 4 inches deeper from the external skin and has been practiced differently in all parts of the world.



The two most common methods of cupping include wet cupping and dry cupping. Dry cupping involves creating a low pressure by heating the cup or the air inside it and then placing it against the skin. When the air inside the cup cools down, it contracts and draws the skin slightly inside. These cups are normally used only on soft tissues for even grip.


These days the practitioners make use of mechanical cups to create the suction and perform the process more efficiently. When used with fire, this method is called fire cupping which employs the use of cotton soaked in 70% alcohol for combustion. The flaming cotton ball is then quickly removed from the cup and the cup is placed on the skin. The fire helps in replacing the oxygen with carbon dioxide.


Wet cupping, also called medicinal bleeding (Hijama) is a very popular remedy in the Muslim world. In this process the cups are first pressed on the skin for mild suction and left for about 3 minutes. The cup is then removed and an apparent incision is made in the area using the scalpel of the cupping kit. The second suction is then created which draws the blood out of the area.


The blood oozing out of the area fills the cup. The supporters strongly believe that Hijama removes the harmful substances and toxins from the body and is a treatment of incurable diseases.


Dry cupping finds its use more towards healing and relaxation while wet cupping refers to the curative treatment approach. Both the techniques follow the lines of the meridian. The cups are usually placed on the five meridian point present on the back. By targeting these meridians, cupping strives to open these channels – the paths through which life energy flows freely throughout the body, tissues and organs thus providing a smoother flow of life.


Hands, legs and wrists can also be cupped, healing the specific organs that correlate with these points as well as purifying the blood and unblocking the clogged arteries and veins.The treatment may lead to mild bruises or rarely, skin infection may occur. To prevent this, antibiotic ointment or bandage may be applied to the affected area. Usually the skin appearance returns to normal within 10 days.


Cupping provides numerous health benefits. Apart from the relaxation, it purifies the blood which helps in treating some major blood disorders such as anemia, hemophilia and the rheumatic disorders like arthritis and fibromyalgia. It is considered to be an excellent treatment for high blood pressure, skin conditions (eczema and acne), fertility problems, bronchial congestion and asthma. Cupping therapy is also effective against anxiety and depression.


Cupping therapy kits are available in medical stores now that have silicone cups, claiming to alleviate the bruises associated with the traditional practice. Cupping therapy should be avoided in pregnant and menstruating women, patients with metastatic carcinoma and those with bone fractures. Also cupping should not be performed on the pulsating area, an area with ulcer or on a site with deep vein thrombosis. It is therefore recommended that cupping should only be performed by the trained health professionals or under the supervision of a trained practitioner.



About the author: Javeria Kamal is a Pharm-D student and is works for human and animal rights. She can be reached at [email protected] .

About this article: This article is competing for the JPMS International Medical Writing Contest 2014.

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