Olympic Media brings new attention to Cupping Therapy…
Here’s a quick note on cupping therapy concerning our current Olympic athletes. This past weekend I noticed an online article covering the 2016 Olympics in Rio. I like how the press is making out that cupping is a “new” therapy. We have used it in Chinese Medicine since 400 A.D. Not me personally, of course, I’m not that old yet! However, I do use cupping therapy quite a bit in Clinic.
Ever since Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps appeared in Rio with purple circles all over his back people have been asking about the ancient Chinese medical practice of cupping. Many college programs have begun using cupping therapy. Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin, gymnast Alexander Naddour, Denver Broncos player DeMarcus Ware, Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow have also appeared in the press with cupping marks.
This “new training fad” dates to the Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong (281–341 A.D.), first documented in his book “A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies.” In this same book is the formula for malaria that won a Nobel Prize for a Chinese researcher the last year.
In ancient times, an infected wound was a leading cause of death. Using an animal horn (the original cups) to drain the infection was a lifesaving technique. With the development of bamboo and later pottery cups, its use expanded. During the Tang Dynasty, cupping therapy was prescribed for the treatment of tuberculosis, headaches arthritis, and abdominal pain.
Modern research has only a few small studies to confirm its efficacy, but what little there is – is promising. One study found cupping effective in reducing neck pain. Another study found it reduced pain in knee arthritis. Cupping does enjoy reasonable biological plausibility for western researchers, in that, by causing local inflammation, the method triggers the production of cytokines – small proteins that enhance communication between cells and help to modulate the immune response.
Today, cupping is mainly recommended for the treatment of pain, gastro-intestinal disorders, chronic cough and asthma, but can be used for other disorders as well. Cupping therapies follow the same point selection pattern that is used for acupuncture therapy, especially on the use of back shu points (bladder meridian) and dazhui (GV-14). Cupping is also often applied with acupuncture.
A couple of cautions… Cups must be carefully sterilized and would not be used on areas of skin that are inflamed, in cases of high fever, convulsions or cramping, or for persons with easy bleeding, i.e. someone on warfarin. You also should not use it during pregnancy.
In my own clinic I find it quite useful for stubborn injuries and for pain that have not responded to other treatments. The cupping draws the injury/bruise up close to the surface, making it is easier for the body to heal itself.
If you would like to try cupping call Joe Brady at the acupuncture clinic and schedule an appointment 303-744-7676.