Cupping: Ancient Therapy for Benefits Today

Therapist performing cupping

Cupping: Ancient Therapy for Benefits Today

The 2016 Olympics and athletes like Michael Phelps brought new attention to an old practice – cupping. Cupping is an ancient Chinese pain relief treatment, and while the marks it can leave make it look scary, it shouldn’t be. Also, it’s not just for star athletes.

Relatively unknown to most people living in the West until recently, cupping therapy is an alternative therapeutic method that has been popular in China since around 1000 B.C. Some records show that variations of cupping practices might actually be much older — possibly dating as far back as 3000 B.C. And for good reason. Cupping therapy has a host of health benefits that can often outweigh modern medicine techniques.

One of the biggest advantages to trying alternative practices like cupping therapy or massage therapy is that these methods don’t pose the risk for unwanted side effects like pharmacological drugs or surgery do. There is very little downside to trying alternative practices like cupping, since studies show they can help boost immune function and speed up healing time without the use of any medications or even herbs.

Cupping techniques have been used extensively to treat a range of disorders and symptoms, sometimes on their own, or other times in conjunction with other alternative practices. It’s common for cupping therapy to be used along with massage therapy, essential oils, acupuncture, or even as an adjunct to traditional medical treatments.

What we do know from the limited scientific studies that have been done is that cupping works by expanding the capillaries and increasing the amount of fluid entering and leaving tissues. Besides this, cupping therapy seems to provoke a relaxation response in some people, which means it’s useful for lowering stress and its negative effects.

Here are five ways that cupping might be able to help you:

Helps Reduce Pain
A report published in Evidence-Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine found that cupping significantly reduced pain in people with low back issues compared to usual care treatments, showed positive effects in treating cancer pain compared with anticancer drugs and analgesics, and helped soothe pain associated with respiratory issues.

Promotes Relaxation
Cupping often helps alleviate physical complaints and allows people to enter a more relaxed state since it sedates the central nervous system.

Boosts Skin Health
Cupping is used to reduce herpes, cellulite, acne, and skin inflammation.

Helps Treat Respiratory Issues and Colds
Cupping therapy can be useful for speeding up healing time from respiratory illnesses like the flu or common colds. Cupping helps improve immune function by moving blood and lymphatic fluid throughout the body, which is why it’s been associated with reductions in lung diseases (especially chronic coughs), allergies, infections, and asthma.

Improves Digestion
Acupuncture and cupping are both popular ways to improve digestion and reduce symptoms from disorders like irritable bowel syndrome.

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