All about CUPPING THERAPY

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 29 Oct 2018 14:06:35


 

By Emily Shiffer,

When the world witnessed the giant purple bruises that covered Michael Phelps’ back and shoulders during the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, everyone wondered where they came from. From there, the world of cupping therapy-which is thought to help relieve pain, muscle soreness, and more-had a huge moment in the wellness spotlight. Olympic athletes aren’t the only ones recovering with the ancient healing practice, though. Celebs like Busy Phillips, Jennifer Aniston, and Kaley Cuoco have all tried it, and people on Instagram are documenting their personal experiences with #cuppingtherapy (with more than 100,000 to date).

But can cupping therapy really make a difference when it comes to your health? We talked to a wide range of experts to figure out what the hype is all about, and whether or not you should consider trying it for yourself. What is cupping therapy and how does it work? Cupping isn’t a new health trend-it’s actually been around for thousands of years and is a technique used in traditional Chinese medicine. Proponents of cupping therapy believe it can help boost blood flow to speed up your body’s natural healing process. Here’s how it works: A practitioner will place a cup onto the surface of the skin to create a vacuum effect.

“This sucks the skin and fat layer off the muscle, and sometimes even moves muscle layers off each other,” explains Houman Danesh, MD, director of integrative pain management at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “Sometimes the cups are left in place and other times they are moved along muscle fibers to help relax tight muscles.” There are different cupping methods, too. “In traditional Chinese medicine, the cup is glass and is heated using a flame. The flame isn’t meant to heat the cup itself, but to suck out air, creating suction right on skin,” says Jamie Starkey, LAc, lead acupuncturist and manager of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Program at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.

“The cup can also be made of plastic, and an actual pistol-like vacuum can be used to remove the air. The patient feels a very tight, sucking feeling, and they are left on between two to five minutes.” Starkey suggests opting for the plastic cups for sanitary reasons, as they are usually made for only one use. What are the benefits of cupping therapy? People who turn to cupping therapy often do so to improve mobility and ease muscle soreness, pain, surgery recovery, and arthritis. “The two biggest reasons cupping is used is to decrease pain and increase your range of motion,” says Kenneth Johnson, PT, director of outpatient therapy services at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “We treat many patients for back pain, neck pain, and joint stiffness. And if you have had surgery and now have scarring, cupping can be very helpful for scars that have adhered to tissue deeper below.”

But how does that tight suction supposedly heal your body? “Cupping creates pressure on the surface of skin,” explains Johnson. This causes inflammation of the suctioned skin and boosts blood flow to that area, which signals to your body that it should start its repair processes. However, he does point out that “a lot of research out there doesn’t necessarily correlate the benefits touted from it.” While some research supports the fact that cupping could temporarily help treat chronic neck or back pain, the body of studies surrounding the practice is largely inconclusive. In fact, a 2018 review of more than 60 studies on cupping therapy found that “no single theory exists to explain the whole effects of cupping.”

Are there any side effects of cupping therapy? You’re probably aware of the biggest side effect: massive, purple bruises. “The bruises are formed from bursting capillaries from the suction which causes pooling of the blood under the cup, creating the characteristic bruise,” says Dr Danesh. They typically resolve in three to five days. What’s more, if the cups are left on the skin for too long, it can create blistering that can open the skin, says Starkey.

(Fair warning, if you Google cupping injuries, the results aren’t pretty.) Other side effects may include soreness, discomfort, burns, and skin infections, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. What’s more, people with diabetes and other blood circulation disorders should be cautious, and if you’re on blood thinners or another anticoagulant, you should not do cupping.

“We also evaluate the integrity of the patient’s skin. If the skin is too thin or has damage, the patient is not suitable for cupping treatments,” says Starkey. So, should you try cupping therapy? While the scientific validation isn’t quite there, there may be a placebo effect. “The science may not suggest that it is effective, but it’s hard to argue with people that are perceiving benefits,” says Johnson. Still, he doesn’t use traditional cupping therapy in his practice at Johns Hopkins.

“Instead, we use a computer-controlled kind of cupping, the negative pressure FDAapproved device LymphaTouch. We turn the pressure on for about 2.5 seconds, and it creates a type of pulsing that has very similar benefits to cupping without damaging the tissue,” he says. But if you’re curious to try traditional cupping, it’s important to seek a trained (and certified) professional, such as a physical therapist, acupuncturist, or chiropractor. “You want to avoid going to someone doesn’t have proper training or certification. You can check your provider’s information on the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine’s website,” says Starkey.