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History of Cupping Therapy

  • 2 min read

When gold-medal-winning swimmer Michael Phelps hit the pool deck at the
2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games his back and shoulders were covered in perfectly round purple cupping marks, that is the moment cupping therapy became mainstream.

Cupping therapy has been documented in early Egyptian and Chinese medical
practices. Diverse human civilizations have contributed to the historical development and continuation of cupping therapy. [1]

The historical descriptions of cupping therapy were found in ancient human civilizations of the Eastern and Western world, cupping therapy is a matter of controversy.

Cupping (Hijama in Arabic) is an ancient in the Islamic world, holistic method for the
treatment of a variety of diseases.  In ancient Greece, Hippocrates the physician who is regarded as the father of modern medicine, used cupping therapy for treating internal disease and structural problems.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Cupping therapy can be traced back to the early Han Dynasty, now is one of the main practices of TCM to drain excess fluids and toxins, loosen adhesions and revitalize connective tissue, increase blood flow to skin and muscles, stimulate the peripheral nervous system, reduce pain, and modulates the immune system according to several hundred researchers.[2][3][4][5]

Currently, cupping therapy is used for health promotion, prophylaxis, and treatment of a variety of diseases around the world. Cupping therapy has a good safety profile and is a well-recognized traditional method for managing medical conditions, particularly those that cause muscle aches and pains. [6][7][8]

Now, Michael Phelps the World's most decorated Olympian has helped to develop his own cupping device for use at home and on the road.  

1. Qureshi NA, Ali GI, Abushanab TS, El-Olemy AT, Alqaed MS, El-Subai IS, Al-Bedah AMN.
History of cupping (Hijama): a narrative review of literature. J Integr Med. 2017 May;15(3):172-
181. doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(17)60339-X. PMID: 28494847.
2. Mohammadi, Shirin, et al. "The effects of cupping therapy as a new approach in the
physiotherapeutic management of carpal tunnel syndrome." Physiotherapy Research
International 24.3 (2019): e1770.
3. Abdulah, Deldar Morad, Hawar Abdulrazaq Mohammedsadiq, and Ary Habeeb Mohammed.
"Effectiveness of wet cupping therapy on relieving pain in patients with chronic migraine: an
observational study." Journal of Complementary and Integrative Medicine 18.3 (2021): 569-577.
4. Inanmdar, Wajida, et al. "Clinical efficacy of Trigonella foenum graecum (Fenugreek) and dry
cupping therapy on intensity of pain in patients with primary dysmenorrhea." Chinese journal of
integrative medicine (2016): 1-8.
5. Mahdavi, Mohammad Reza Vaez, et al. "Evaluation of the effects of traditional cupping on the
biochemical, hematological and immunological factors of human venous blood." A compendium
of essays on alternative therapy Croatia: InTech 6 (2012): 67-88.
6. Ullah, Kaleem, Ahmed Younis, and Mohamed Wali. "An investigation into the effect of cupping
therapy as a treatment for anterior knee pain and its potential role in health promotion." Internet J
Altern Med 4.1 (2007): 1-9.
7. Hanan, S., and S. Eman. "Cupping therapy (al-hijama): It’s impact on persistent non-specific
lower back pain and client disability." Life Sci J 10.4s (2013): 631-642.
8. Enomoto, Shota, et al. "Acute effects of dermal suction on passive muscle and joint
stiffness." Healthcare. Vol. 9. No. 11. MDPI, 2021.

9. Musumeci, Giuseppe. "Could cupping therapy be used to improve sports performance?." Journal
of Functional Morphology and Kinesiology 1.4 (2016): 373-377.