Cupping therapy has been used for over 2000-3000 years, with it’s beginnings in Chinese medicine. There a few variations of this technique (fire cupping, wet cupping, dry cupping, massage cupping) that uses suction within glass jars in order to relieve a variety of bodily ailments.
Recently, I was able to have this technique performed on my back for muscle tension and back pain – in this case, fire cupping was used to create a vacuum within the jars. I wasn’t aware of what I was in for when I told my friend she could perform cupping therapy on me. While I laid on my stomach, she lit cotton balls soaked in alcohol on fire, placed them inside the cups to create a vacuum and then suctioned them to my back. The experience was extremely painful – she left some jars in place on my upper back while she moved others around on my lower back as a massage technique. She left the stationary ones on for about 20 minutes while using the ones on lower back as a massage procedure. While this was happening I was questioning what I had gotten myself into and wondering if I made a bad decision! However, after the procedure was finishing and she removed the cups from my back, I felt amazing. There was no pain after the procedure even though my back looked like it was attacked by a large octopus. The tension in my muscles was released and my lower back pain was completely gone. For me, this technique relieved my muscle pain better than deep tissue massage therapy.
Not until after the therapy did I actually look more into cupping. I was amazed to find many articles about the benefits of the procedure and the ailments that can be treated with cupping (cough, herpes, Bells Palsy, muscle pain, acne, and herniated disks).
Personally, I would rather treat a condition using holistic methods as opposed to surgery or medication. If this technique is still in use from 3000 years ago and still effective, I would recommend others to try it at least once or twice before considering other more invasive options. The pain is only temporary and worth it for the benefits gained from the therapy.
1. An updated review of the efficacy of cupping therapy. Huijuan Cao, Xun Li, and Jianping Liu. PLoS One 2012.