The specific origin of Cupping Therapy remains in obscurity – the consensus is that the action of suction has been part of therapeutic efforts throughout human history. Ancient cultures used hollowed out animal horns, bones, bamboo, nuts, seashells and gourds to purge bites, pustules, infections and skin lesions from the body. Earthenware and metal were fashioned into cupping vessels before the development of glass.
The earliest recorded use of cupping is from the famous Taoist alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong (281–341 A.D.). In ancient Greece, Hippocrates recommended the use of cups for a variety of ailments, while in the early 1900’s eminent British physician, Sir Arthur Keith, wrote how he witnessed cupping performed with excellent success.
In China, extensive research has been carried out on cupping therapy, and the practice is a mainstay of government-sponsored hospitals of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The fundamental therapeutic value of cupping has been documented through several thousand years of clinical and subjective experience and has advanced its application to many areas.
In my clinic, I use cupping to relieve the stagnation and pain of muscle injury and to speed recovery time. I use either glass cups which are washed and then autoclaved to prevent cross-contamination between patients or silicone cups that are washed and sterilised after use.
Here’s an excellent article on cupping in Chinese Medicine that explains the technique and the history (Clicking on the link will open the PDF in a new window):
And not to be outdone, CBS News in 2007 stated “Cupping takes away Pain:”