Everything that we are enjoying right now, whether it’s a practice or an innovative item, has its past and history to unfold. For us to fully benefit from them, we should be aware of the interesting journey they have gone through. It adds interest and a ‘value’ factor to how we utilize their features. One example is a medical practice known as ‘cupping massage’. It may be new to some but this has been practiced even in ancient times.
Once only an integral part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), cupping massage has since spread throughout the world and is used in many religions and cultures to improve health and well-being. It has a remarkable past, an interesting present, and a bright future of helping humankind to live the best of their health.
Massage Cupping: Simply Defined
Massage cupping is an ancient alternative therapy that helps increase blood circulation to the body areas where specialized cups are placed. This is said to relieve muscle tension, which can enhance overall blood flow and promote effective cell repair. It may also aid in forming new connective tissues and creating new blood vessels in the tissue.
Healthline.com said that there are two types of cupping, which are wet cupping and dry cupping. The first one refers to the cupping that involves suction and controlled medicinal bleeding. On the other hand, dry cupping is a suction-only method.
It is known by many names. Cupping massage or Hijama (in Arabic) is a therapeutic technique that uses negative pressure to lift the skin and underlying muscle and tissue away from the body in a vacuum.
A 2016 study shared a summary of Hijama.
“In traditional medicine, Hijama is divided into two kinds, namely wet cupping (with sharat, with incision, and blood giving) and dry cupping (without sharat, without incision). Dry cupping causes organ blood absorption, organ warming, and loss of organ humidity. The texts of Iranian traditional medicine refer to the Ziabites disease that its symptoms are like diabetes. This disease is divided into two types including warm and cold ziabetes. The treatments that are recommended for both types are dry cupping for cold ziabetes and wet cupping for warm ziabetes. In addition, according to scientific studies, dry cupping and wet cupping have been recommended for diabetes treatment.”
The study also concluded that dry cupping and wet cupping are both promising to be introduced as complementary treatments along with other medical treatments.
Traditional dry cupping therapy
One of the first instances of this type of therapy showing up in literature was around 300 A.D. in A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies written by a Daoist herbalist by the name of Ge Hong. It was believed that the suction would remove "illnesses and infirmities" from the body. Cupping massage can be broken into wet and dry techniques using a variety of bell-shaped objects to generate the lifting pressure.
From China, the technique traveled along the Silk Road and encountered an up and coming religion, Islam. The technique was embraced and added to the medical knowledge being accumulated in the Golden Age of Islam.
More about the History of Cupping
A review article by Science Direct entitled, “Cupping Therapy: An Overview from a Modern Medicine Perspective” mentioned that cupping therapy is an ancient technique of healing. This therapy is performed by applying cups to specific skin points to create a subatmospheric pressure, by using heat or suction.
The study also reveals an interesting revelation about its history:
“Ebers papyrus (1550 BC) from Ancient Egypt is one of the oldest medical texts to mention cupping therapy. Cupping therapy is part of numerous ancient healing systems, such as Chinese, Unani, traditional Korean, Tibetan, and Oriental medicine. The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates compiled extensive descriptions of the cupping application. He described two different types of cups: one with a narrow opening and a long handle and the other with a wider opening. The first type was used to treat deep accumulation of fluids, while the second type was used to treat the spread of pain. Cupping therapy was a popular historical treatment in Arabic and Islamic countries. It was recommended by Arabic and Islamic physicians such as Ibn Sina (AD 980–1037), Al-Zahrawi (AD 936–1036), and Abu Bakr Al-Razi (AD 854–925). Al-Zahrawi described cupping sites and illustrated cupping tools with diagrams. Cupping therapy practice spread to Italy and, subsequently, the rest of Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries, during the Renaissance. Cupping was a very popular treatment of gout and arthritis in Italy during this period.”
In the same article, it was stated that cupping therapy is classified into five main categories including technical types, method-suction types, power of suction-related types, condition and area treated-related types, and added-therapy related types.
Fire cupping-one of the earliest types of cupping in the world
The most extreme versions of the practice involve drawing blood in the hopes that the process will pull 'bad' or 'unwanted' things from the body. This is akin to the medieval Western practice of bloodletting. This is largely unnecessary though. There are many benefits to cupping massage without resorting to practices like this.
Did you know that cupping was developed originally by using hollowed animal horns instead of cups? This is to drain the toxins from the infected areas caused by skin lesions and snake bites. The idea of this practice has evolved as times go by. The animal horns are then evolved into bamboo cups, and then become the cups we are using now. Along with the innovations of materials used are the improvement as well, of the care techniques applied to cupping.
The Chinese are the ones who make the utilization of cupping popular to include it in surgery for the purpose of diverting blood flow from the surgery area. Cupping then eventually developed into an improved therapy, with healers providing treatment to a variety of conditions. Records reveal early written documents dated from 28 AD, as well as a traditional Chinese adage indicating “acupuncture and cupping, more than half the ills cured”.
It is also interesting to know that the Egyptians developed a text on ancient medicine that showcased the use of cupping for health problems such as pain, fever, menstrual cramps, vertigo, loss of appetite, and several other diseases. According to the Egyptians, cupping was also introduced to the Greeks and dramatically spread to ancient cultures in various countries all over the world including America and Europe.
According to some records that we can find online, European and American doctors widely used cupping in practice into the 1800’s. Research papers were written in the 19th century, and a collaborative effort between the former Soviet Union and China confirmed the clinical efficacy of cupping therapy. It became an official therapy to be found in all Chinese hospitals.
Massage Cupping: What You Need to be Aware Today
It’s always an amazing thing to know that massage cupping is dramatically becoming popular as a practice to promote better health and wellness. It is well-known to help with the following health conditions:
- Neck and back pain
- Skin diseases like hives and acne
- Other types of headaches
- High blood pressure
It is also proven to improve the functions of the immune system, keeping the body strong against various kinds of diseases.
A research paper in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine stated that professional athletes are now becoming active in using cupping therapy as part of their recovery practices due to injuries.
Cupping should be administered by a professional to ensure effective results and prevent adverse side effects.
A study published by MarketWatch, “Cupping Therapy Kits Industry Size 2020 Global Market Growth, Share, Demand, Trends and Forecasts to 2026” shares valuable information about the comprehensive report regarding the coverage of the market across various market segments, deep country-level evaluation, and analysis on drivers, restraints, major trends, and opportunities.
The report highlighted:
“The research report has incorporated the analysis of different factors that augment the market’s growth. This section also provides the scope of different segments and applications that can potentially influence the market in the future. The detailed information is based on current trends and historic milestones. This section also provides an analysis of the volume of production about the global market and also about each type from 2015 to 2026.”
The report also stated that the major countries that contribute to the cupping industry’s market, revenue, sales, and growth rate are:
- South America (Brazil, etc.)
- North America (Canada, Mexico, United States)
- Africa and the Middle East
- Europe (UK, Germany, Italy, France, Turkey, Russia)
- Asia-Pacific (India, Korea, China, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Australia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and India)
The future of cupping therapy is bright and promising. With today’s innovative tools and medical breakthroughs, we can tell that there is more to look forward to cupping therapy.
Here at R&R, we focus more on the therapeutic use of cupping massage and the stress relief it can provide. There are many sellers who claim cupping massage will reduce or eliminate all manner of problems in the body. This distracts from the real benefits that come from a mindful focus on your body and well-being. Taking only a few minutes to recognize where you are experiencing pain or discomfort and using the more gentle dry cupping techniques is enough of a benefit by itself. As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of a cure." Try and take a few minutes to work on that prevention today!
Thank you and be well!
Rave & Rejuvenate Team
Body Cupping Set For Pain Relief and Cellulite Removal
This content is for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition. The information provided is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a medical professional or physician. Consult your doctor or qualified health professional if you have any health questions. Neither Rave and Rejuvenate nor the writer of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person reading or following the information in this educational content. The statements or efficacy of these products have not been evaluated or confirmed by FDA-approved research.