Cupping Therapy | Types, Uses, Benefits, Contraindication & More

What is cupping therapy?

Cupping therapy is one of the old traditional or cultural alternative medicine, this method of treatment is used for thousands of years in diverse cultures under several names such as horn suction therapy, or Al-hijama.

In the cupping therapy, the practitioner puts special cups on the patient’s skin on specific sites on chest, back, or legs. The placed cup causes suction pressure on this specific site. This suction pressure leads to increase blood flow to the skin and the surrounding area. The increase in blood flow is claimed to purify the blood from specific toxins and treating multiple conditions such as: chronic back pain, menstrual disturbance, gut problems, high blood pressure, and headache.

History of cupping therapy

Cupping therapy is a modern treatment trend nowadays, but it is not a new hype, this technique is an ancient method of treatment that was practiced from old times in diverse cultures. In these old practices of cupping therapy, the techniques were like similar with different equipment from the nearby environment.

A) Ancient Egyptians

The first mention of cupping therapy in history returned to 1550 BC, when it was mentioned in one of the oldest medical books “the Eber’s papyrus”. In the ancient Egypt, multiple drawings of cupping therapy technique were found on one of the oldest temples in Egypt. They used cupping therapy for treating multiple diseases and conditions such as:

    • Decrease in appetite
    • Cupping therapy was used frequently in treatment of pain
    • Menstrual disturbances

B) Old and traditional Chinese medicine

Cupping therapy is used extensively in traditional Chinese practices along with other methods such as acupuncture. These traditional techniques could be followed back to Han dynasty from 202 BC to 220 AD. One of the early persons who uses this traditional way of treatment was Ge Hang, one of the best herbal therapists, who believed in the power of healing of cupping therapy and acupuncture.

C) The Greeks

In old Greece, one of the most famous known physician “Hippocrates” used cupping therapy for treating multiple disorders such as:

    • Gynecological diseases
    • Treating accumulating fluids in the body
    • Inflammations and infections in body such as ear infections

He also gave a detailed description of his cupping technique, which consisted of two different methods, one for treating superficial conditions such as in skin diseases. The other method was used for treating of more deep conditions.

D) Islamic culture

Cupping therapy is widely used in Arabic and Islamic countries, it is also known as Al-Hijama. The prophet of Islam “Muhammed” PBUH, was treated with Al-Hijama, and even recommends its use to fellow Muslims.

A few Muslim physicians with great repetitions as Ibn Sina, Al-Razi, and Alzahrawy have used cupping therapy in treating their patients. There are multiple illustrations available to describe the technique, and the recommended sites of cupping therapy for every disease.

E) Old western culture

In old western cultures, the use of holistic and traditional medicine including cupping therapy was widely used between the fourteenth-14th century, and the seventeen-17th century. In Europe, the use of cupping therapy was common for treatment of flu and chest infections. The popularity of cupping therapy has diminished since the rise of modern medicine.