March 2009 >
By Dr. Tamer Shaban, M.B.B.C.H, D.H.P., D.C.M.T,
S.N.H.S Dip. (Nutrition), S.N.H.S Dip.(Herbalism)
What is cupping therapy?
Cupping is a method of relieving local congestion by applying a partial
vacuum that is created in a cup(s), either by heat or by suction.
Cupping has been used for thousands of years. Although it is often
associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine, the entire world once knew
this of therapy and used it. The Ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Chinese
used cupping therapy. The oldest recorded medical textbook, Ebers
Papyrus, written in approximately 1550 BCE in Egypt, mentions cupping
(Curtis, 2005). In the UK, the practice of cupping therapy also dates
back a long time in one of their leading medical journals, The Lancet.
It was named after this practice as it refers to the surgical instrument
that can scrape the skin to perform a style of cupping.
Types of Cupping
There are various types of cupping such as:
Light Cupping - Uses a weak suction in the cup to do light
cupping. It is
suitable for children and elderly people.
Medium Cupping - A medium strength for general purpose cupping.
Strong Cupping - Suction will be great and, therefore, it is not
for children and elderly people.
Moving Cupping or Massage Cupping - This is a great method of
massage and is done by applying oil to the skin and moving the cup, by a
weak suction, on the area to be treated.
Needle Cupping - Acupuncture and cupping are done in the same
place by applying the needle first and then the cup is applied over the
Hot Cupping - Dried mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris) leaves,
sometimes called by its Oriental name, Moxa, is a great warming herb. A
needle is used, warmed by dried mugwort and then the cup is applied over
Flash Cupping - This is a term used to describe the practice when
several medium cuppings are preformed several times in quick succession
along the area being treated to stimulate it.
Bleeding Cupping - Also called Full Cupping or Wet Cupping. It is
the most frequently used, oldest, and often the most effective method. A
surgical instrument is used to scrape the skin and the cup is then
applied to collect blood.
Herbal Cupping - A suitable herbal tincture is put into the cup
suction is applied.
Water Cupping - This is the least practiced method. It involves
third of the cup with warm water. Whilst holding the cup close to the
client with one hand, it is brought to the point to be cupped and then
burning cotton wool is inserted into the cup, then swiftly and
simultaneously the cup is turned onto the skin. When performed properly,
no water spillage occurs.
Conditions Which Can Benefit From Cupping
Conditions that can benefit from cupping include headache, back pain,
joint and muscular pain, infertility, sexual disorders, rheumatic
hypertension, breast enhancement, bed wetting, common colds and flu,
insomnia, stroke, fever, constipation and diarrhea, chest pain, asthma
and blood disorders.
Precautions and Contraindications
Always take sensible precautions when using cupping or be sure that the
therapist you seek cupping treatment from follows these precautions.
* Sterilization: this is the main key to success.
* Use suitable cups for the area being treated.
* Take extra care with children and the elderly.
* Do not apply strong cupping to the face.
* Do not treat pregnant women.
* Do not use cupping on inflamed or cut skin.
* Take extra care when scraping the skin and do not cut a vein or
* Do not treat people with a serious heart disease.
Applying Cupping on Acupuncture Points
In the Journal of Biomechanics (2005), researchers L. M. Thama, H. P.
Leea, and C. Lua state that "Cupping is known to be an effective
alternative to needles in stimulating acupoints in acupuncture
treatment. One of the major advantages must be that transmission of
blood-borne diseases can be avoided since the skin is not penetrated."
Therefore, we can use cupping as an alternative to acupuncture, or in
conjunction with it. Many researchers have investigated and demonstrated
the benefits of cupping.
1) *Cupping: From a biomechanical perspective* by L.M. Thama, H.P.
Leea,b,_, C. Lua (Journal of Biomechanics) June 2005
2) *Cupping* by Subhuti Dharmananda, Ph.D., Director, Institute for
Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon
3) Ancient Chinese Technique of Cupping Offers Pain Relief Without Drugs
4) *Massage Cupping Therapy for Health Care Professionals* By Anita J.
5) *Cupping Therapy/* by Ilkay Zihni Chirali
6) The Complete Guide To cupping Therapy By Dr Tamer Shaban
Dr. Tamer Shaban
Author of "The Complete Guide to Cupping therapy"
Physician (MBBCH),Member of the Royle Institute of Hypnotherapy and
Psychotherapy (UK), Member of the Complete Mind therapists