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What exactly is cupping?

Follow me on Twitter @RobShmerling The 2016 summer Olympics had its share of exciting performances, upsets, and photo finishes. But for days after Michael Phelps’s first appearance at the games, it seemed all anyone could talk about was “cupping.” It’s an ancient therapy that left multiple circular discolorations on his skin. During “dry cupping,” suction is applied to the skin for several minutes; sometimes it is combined with massage, acupuncture, or other alternative therapies. (“Wet cupping” is similar except that blood is removed by making small cuts in the skin.) Cupping is supposed to draw fluid into the area; the discoloration is due to broken blood vessels just beneath the skin, much like a bruise. Cupping has been popular in Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures going back thousands of years, but increasing numbers of people worldwide have been adopting it. Celebrities and athletes have popularized it in the U.S. in recent years. What is cupping supposed to do? According to its advocates, cupping is supposed to promote healing and has been used extensively for sore muscles. But that’s only the beginning. Cupping has also been used for back and neck pain skin diseases such as acne and hives lowering cholesterol migraines knee arthritis improving immune function. And there are many others. If cupping does help with these problems, it’s worth asking: how? From a biological perspective, it’s no...
Source: Harvard Health Blog - Category: Consumer Health News Authors: Tags: Complementary and alternative medicine Source Type: blogs

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