Surely you have been shocked to see the most decorated sportsman in the history of the Olympic Games show off some spectacular bruises in his last competitions. Well, they are the result of your cupping sessions, one of the muscle recoveries techniques more fashionable among athletes and celebrities of all kinds. But using suckers to extract by suction the responsible spirit that the organism is sick is nothing new, it is an ancestral practice that goes back more than three centuries before Christ. Thus, there is evidence of the use of suction cups for medical purposes in Mesopotamia (3,300 BC), in ancient Egypt (2,200 BC), and even in India (1,500 BC). This practice also extended to Greece, where Hippocrates (400 BC) left indications on its use, as well as the Arab countries and China.
The therapy cupping is also called with the English term cupping, derived from ‘cup’ which in English means cup, and is -usually made with cupping glass or plastic – on the patient ‘s body, and make them an effect vacuum by means of which the suction cup adheres to the body and sucks the skin and part of the muscle, opening the pores and stimulating the blood and lymphatic circulation .
The supporters of cupping also consider that it is the best method to open the meridians of the body, which are the conduits through which energy flows, so this alternative therapy works in a similar way to acupuncture.
The detractors of this technique point out that there is no scientific evidence to support their supposed health benefits, and that the improvements experienced by some patients could be due to the ‘placebo effect’. By contrast, a study published last year in PloS ONE based on a review of 135 studies conducted between 1992 and 2010 concluded that combining cupping with other treatments or drugs was able to improve conditions such as acne, herpes zoster or cervical spondylosis.
In the cupping technique , suction cups can be applied in various ways and with different objectives:
Massage: once the vacuum has been made and the suction cup has been placed on the patient’s skin, it slides from one side to the other producing a massage effect (for which an oil has previously been applied to facilitate the sliding of the suction cup ), which stimulates the circulation of blood and lymph and serves to eliminate toxins.
Fixed suction cup: It attaches the suction cup in certain points in order to treat certain areas of the body through its reflex points in the back.
Application and extraction of the suction cup: it is only used on the back and consists of applying the suction cup and leaving it only a few seconds, to then change to another part of the area to be treated. It is used to loosen excess mucus when there is pulmonary congestion.
Wet cupping or bleed with the suction cup: a suction cup is applied in a congested or inflamed area that requires this treatment for about three minutes, and then a superficial incision is made in the skin of the patient so that a small amount of blood comes out to decongest the said area.
Benefits of cupping
Although new studies are needed to deepen the benefits of cupping, the truth is that it is a therapy used for millennia that, according to the ‘British Cupping Society’, serves to address, among others, the following problems:
The cupping by experts is a relatively safe therapy but may have some side effects such as burning or itching, or skin infection. In addition, it is contraindicated in pregnant women or during menstruation, and in people who have a bone fracture or muscle spasms, as well as in patients with metastases.