Cupping Therapy: History & Uses

Written by Talitha Reis, R.TCMP, R.Ac

Cupping Therapy is a treatment method developed by our ancient practitioners in the process of struggling against diseases. It is an important component in the non-drug therapies of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  

The earliest literacy record for cupping therapy dates back to the 3rd century B.C.for the treatment of haemorrhoids and muscular pain. In ancient times, animal horns or bamboo barrels were used as tools. After the establishment of People’s Republic of China, the state paid special attention to the development of traditional medicine.  As such, the cupping method has been continuously improved and its clinical applications have been expanded from the single department of surgery to departments of internal diseases, gynaecology, obstetrics  pediatrics, orthopaedics, dermatology,ophthalmology, otohinolaringology, stomatology, weight loss and others.

Cupping Therapy, after thousands years of development, perfection and improvement, has been accepted by more and more people across North America – especially athletes, construction workers and individuals doing strenuous physical activities. Cupping Therapy is called a new “natural therapy in 21st century ” because of its wide application, good efficacy and safety without side effects.   

Cupping Therapy uses a cup as a tool to form a negative pressure by burning or sucking the air in the cup and anchoring it over the treated site of the body to prevent and treat diseases. Its therapeutic approach is based on the theory of Yin & Yang and Five Elements, and the theory of ZangFu (organs and viscera) and JingLuo (channels and collaterals).

The appearance of water droplets on the cupped area or the appearance of blisters, petechiae or extravasation of blood in the skin are all normal reactions. The marks from cupping may take up to 10 days to clear and it relies on each individual’s cardiovascular system to be absorbed and eliminated.