cupping therapy

Cupping therapy

is an ancient technique of healing and is performed by applying cups to selected skin points and creating a subatmospheric pressure, either by heat or by suction.
Cupping is a simple application of quick, vigorous, rhythmical strokes to stimulate muscles and is particularly helpful in the treatment of aches and pains associated with various diseases. Thus, cupping carries the potential to enhance the quality of life.
Effects of cupping therapy include :

    • promotion of the skin’s blood flow
    • changing of the skin’s biomechanical properties
    • increasing pain thresholds
    • improving local anaerobic metabolism
    • and reducing inflammation

The suction and negative pressure provided by cupping can loosen muscles, encourage blood flow, and sedate the nervous system (which makes it an excellent treatment for high blood pressure). Cupping is used to relieve back and neck pains, stiff muscles, anxiety, fatigue, migraines, rheumatism, and even cellulite.

Pain relief

People frequently cite cupping therapy as a form of pain relief. However, while there is some evidence for its effectiveness, scientists need to conduct more high-quality studies to demonstrate this fully.

For example, a study paper in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine found some evidence to suggest that cupping may reduce pain. However, its authors note that there were limits to the quality of the studies that showed this.

A meta-analysis that appears in the journal Revista Latina-Americano De Enfermagem claims that there may be evidence for cupping being effective in treating back pain.

One study paper in the journal BMJ Open came to a similar conclusion for the effectiveness of cupping for neck pain. The researchers note that there is a need for better-quality studies to determine whether cupping therapy is truly effective.

Skin conditions

A study paper in the journal PLoS One found that there was some evidence for cupping therapy being effective at treating herpes zoster and acne.

However, it notes that the studies that supported these findings were at a high risk of bias. So, more rigorous, high-quality studies are necessary to verify the findings.

Sports recovery

A study paper in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine notes that professional athletes are increasingly using cupping therapy as part of their recovery practices.

Side effects and risks

According to the NCCIH, the side effects of cupping can include:

    • lasting skin discoloration
    • scarring
    • burns
    • infection

If a person has a skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis, cupping may make it worse on the area where the practitioner applies the cups.

In rare instances, a person may experience more significant internal bleeding or anemia if the practitioner takes too much blood during wet cupping.

According to a study paper that appears in the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, cupping can also cause:

Due to the poor quality of studies investigating cupping, it is difficult to know how common these side effects are.

If a person has any of these side effects following cupping therapy, they should speak to a medical professional. Some people may have health conditions, such as problems with blood clotting, that making cupping less than ideal.

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