The Fascinating History Of Cupping
June 29, 2023 at 16:23
Readers may be looking for some insights on the history of cupping.
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Over the past decade, cupping therapy — more commonly known as ‘cupping’ — has risen in popularity. Thanks to a long list of celebrities, starting with American swimmer Michael Phelps (who was photographed with a purple-blotched shoulder at the Rio Olympic Games), cupping has re-emerged as a popular method of holistic treatment. However, it is an alternative treatment method that has a long history, with roots spread out all across the world.
While advancements in medicine and technology have allowed cupping therapy to evolve, the basic premise remains the same. The procedure involves creating a local suction effect on the skin by means of cups (made of glass, plastic, bamboo or ceramic, depending on the nature of the therapy), which will suck the underlying skin into the cup and enhance blood flow to the area, which in turn activates the immune system, flushes the area, lifts muscle fibers, and stretches the tissue. Cups can be placed on the back, shoulders, stomach, legs, or any muscle group where it is easy to attach the cups. Doctors and healthcare providers recommend cupping for athletes, physically active people, anyone suffering chronic pain, and more.
There are conflicting reports about the origins of cupping therapy. While some consider the Chinese to be the inventors of this practice, there are pictographic records that may suggest that the ancient Egyptians were the first to practice cupping. One of the oldest medical textbooks on record, the Ebers Papyrus, speaks about the importance of blood flow in the body and mentions the use of cupping for treating various ailments, such as menstrual imbalances, weakened appetite, fever, vertigo, and pain. Pictograms of cupping have also been discovered at the site of the Temple of Kom Ombo.
Where the Chinese are concerned, there is evidence that cupping was used in China as far back as the early Han Dynasty. The earliest use of cupping that is recorded is from Taoist alchemist and herbalist Ge Hong, who strongly believed that with, “cupping and acupuncture combined, more than 1/2 of the ills can be cured.”
The Father of Medicine, Hippocrates, a Greek physician of the classical period and one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine, also used cupping therapy. In his guide to clinical treatments, Hippocrates advocated the use of cupping for gynecological complaints, back and extremity illnesses, pharyngitis, lung diseases, and ear ailments.
Cupping was also used in and across the ancient Islamic world and in the Middle East. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said to his followers, “Indeed the best of remedies you have is hijamah.” ‘Hjamah’ is the Arabic word for cupping. Famous Islamic physicians, such as Al-Zahrawi (AD 936-1036), Ibn Sina (AD 980-1037), and Abu Bakr Al-Rizi (AD854-925), described cupping sites and illustrated cupping with diagrams in many of their literature, and it is still widely practiced in the Middle East. Additionally, Iranian traditional medicine uses wet-cupping practices, with the belief that cupping with scarification may eliminate scar tissue, and cupping without scarification would cleanse the body through the organs.
Wherever cupping originated, it has spread widely since. Between the 14th and 17th centuries, cupping therapy spread to many European countries, particularly during the Renaissance. During the Renaissance, cupping was considered one of the most popular treatments for arthritis and gout. Throughout the 18th century, cupping therapy was practiced by a great majority of European doctors who used it for the treatment of common cold and chest infections.
However, as science and medicine advanced, cupping lessened in popularity in the late 18th century, and it stayed relatively unknown until recently; with the increase in the popularity and demand of complementary and alternative therapies, more and more people are turning to holistic treatment options, such as acupuncture, remedial massage, myotherapy, reflexology, chiropractic, herbal medicine, and cupping. Today, cupping therapy has once again grown in popularity, and it is used to treat a wide variety of conditions, particularly those that cause muscle aches and pains.
Those who wish to learn more about cupping and other healthcare practices should visit the Find It Health website for more information. The organization encourages interested parties to get in touch via email or phone for more information. Find It Health also maintains a widespread social media presence on Twitter, Reddit, and Pinterest.
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