While many of us know that celebrities are in fact, not health professionals, we still seem to jump on the bandwagon when it comes to the latest health fads in Hollywood. Juice cleanses, appetite- suppression lollipops and waist trainers are just a few trends that have exploded in popularity thanks to the celebrities that endorsed them through a simple Instagram post.
Looking at these different health crazes, it is safe to say that they sound illegitimate and can’t possibility be approved by the FDA, let alone be backed by science.
However, there are some fads that can’t be ignored, especially when they are practiced by the most decorated Olympian of all time. Michael Phelps has been known to influence swimmers and non-swimmers alike through his undeniable success as an athlete and also a philanthropist.
Many questions have arisen about Michael Phelps throughout his time in the spotlight, but it wasn’t until the Rio 2016 Summer Olympics when people started asking, “What are the purple dots on Michael Phelps’ body?”.
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What Can I Expect?
Cupping therapy is performed by a therapist who places special cups on the skin for an average of 3 minutes until there is noticeable suction. The cups that are used can be made from glass, bamboo, earthenware or silicone and they can either be wet or dry when the cupping is performed. Additionally, it is most common to see 3-5 cups being used during each session.
The cupping procedure begins with the therapist putting a flammable substance in a cup and then setting it on fire and once the fire goes out, the cup is then placed on the skin. As a result of the air inside of the cup cooling, thus creating a vacuum, the skin rises and turns red as the blood vessels expand.
Recently, it has become increasingly common for therapists to use a rubber pump instead of fire to create a vacuum inside the cup. Finally, an antibiotic ointment is applied to the skin with bandages to prevent infection. An individual can expect to have normal-looking skin within 10 days after the procedure.
Cupping History and Resurgence
The history of cupping has most commonly been referred to as an ancient Chinese practice, but it has also been described in one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world “Ebers Papyrus” as being used by the ancient Egyptians in 1,550 B.C.
When observing the history of cupping in China, it has been stated that the suction created by the cups helps “qi”, or life force flow more freely in the body. Furthermore, a famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist named Ge Hong, was the first individual who reportedly practiced cupping.
While cupping therapy may have been utilized by scientists and herbalists in the past, that certainly isn’t the case now. Cupping therapy became increasingly popular after Michael Phelps debuted “those circular bruises” on his back in the 2016 Olympics. Recently, cupping has resurfaced thanks to celebrities such as Busy Phillips and Kaley Cuoco endorsing its healing effects.
Different Kinds of Cupping and Benefits
As stated previously, cupping can be done with wet or dry cups. Both of these methods are often performed with glass cups, which are rounded and open on one end.
Dry cupping is done with the use of only suction whereas wet cupping is performed with both suction and controlled medical bleeding. Both types of cupping have been used to treat a myriad of health issues present in a variety of demographics.
Healthline explains that cupping has been most commonly used to treat digestive issues, skin issues and other conditions that are usually treated with acupuncture. Moreover, the 2012 review of studies addresses the fact that cupping therapy has been used to treat conditions such as: “shingles, facial paralysis, cough, acne, lumbar disc herniation and cervical spondylosis.”
When compared to dry cupping, wet cupping truly appears to be more intimidating. Despite this, users who prefer wet cupping to dry cupping cite their reasons from claims that it “relieves stagnation and ‘bad blood’”, which originated from ancient Chinese medicine.
Interestingly enough, one study in 2009 found a correlation between wet cupping and decreased back pain in individuals after a three-month follow-up . Furthermore, the American Journal of Chinese Medicine explored the notion that wet cupping could help alleviate migraine symptoms in those with chronic headaches.
While the effects of cupping therapy prove to be interesting, more studies need to be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the procedure.
Who shouldn’t do cupping?
Many individuals who find themselves suffering from chronic pain and/or other conditions can try cupping therapy to alleviate their symptoms. It is also important to note that cupping isn’t for everyone.
First, children under 4 years old should not receive cupping therapy and those that are older should only do it for short periods of time.
Next, it is not recommended for seniors to utilize cupping therapy. As an individual gets older, the skin loses it elasticity and as a result, cupping therapy might not function as efficiently on a senior and it could also damage the skin.
Another group of individuals that shouldn’t practice cupping therapy include pregnant or menstruating women, especially on the abdomen and lower back.
Cupping therapy is a practice that is rich in history and that has been associated with some interesting results. Those who suffer from chronic pain cited cupping therapy as the solution to their ailments due to the increased blood circulation and cell repair to the area where the cups are placed. Even celebrities are jumping on the cupping bandwagon and most are quick to follow pursuit. Before you decide that cupping is what you need, please consult your healthcare professional for insight. If you’re given the green light, let’s hope that the cupping therapy was all that it was hyped up to be.
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