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A Brief History of Cupping Therapy

If you’re looking for natural ways to improve your health and well-being, you’ve probably seen the word “cupping” pop up in your therapy. The term “cupping therapy” is trending on social media platforms, on search engines, and in tons of magazines. If you use the gym, you may have even heard fellow gym-goers talking about cupping. With so much buzz, your interests have no doubt been piqued, but before you proceed and start looking for spas that offer “cupping massage near me”, learning more about this type of therapy is important. 

While cupping therapy has only come into the mainstream recently, it’s actually been around for a long, long time. So, let’s dive in and explore this natural form of alternative medicine. 

What is cupping? 

Cupping therapy, more commonly referred to simply as “cupping” is a centuries-old practice. Opinions regarding the origins of cupping vary, as some believe that it was pioneered by the ancient Egyptians and others credit the Chinese, yet still others think that it was developed by the ancient Greeks. Whoever actually developed this form of therapy, one thing’s for sure: cupping has deep roots throughout history and has certainly played an important part in health care. 

Here’s an overview of the connection of cupping to different cultures throughout history. 

Ancient China

The evidence of cupping therapy can be traced all the way back to the Han Dynasty. The famed herbalist and alchemist who lived during the Jin Dynasty, Ge Hong, is believed to be the first to introduce the therapy to the Chinese. Hong strongly held that when cupping and acupuncture (another ancient form of alternative medicine) are combined, more than ½ of the ailments that plague humans can be cured. 

Ancient Egypt

References to cupping therapy were documented in the Ebers Papyrus, the oldest medical textbook that dates back to ancient Egypt. This form of therapy was used by the ancient Egyptians to treat a whole host of ailments, including fever, pain, inflammation, poor appetite, vertigo, and even menstrual imbalances. Furthermore, drawings of cupping were found on the Temple of Kom Ombo, one of the oldest cities in all of Egypt. 

Ancient Greece

The ancient Green physician, Hippocrates, who is hailed as the “Father of Modern Medicine”, was a strong advocate of cupping therapy. He used the practice to treat a great many internal diseases, as well as physical issues, such as angina and menstrual irregularities. 

Ancient Islam

“Al-hijamah” is the word that was used for cupping therapy in the ancient Islamic culture. The Prophet Muhammad said to his followers, “indeed the best of remedies you have is hijamah”. The highly regarded Islamic physicians Al-Zahrawi, who lived from 936 to 1037, Ibna Sina, who lived from 980 to 1037, and Abu Bakr Al-Rizi, who lived from 854 to 925, explained and illustrated ideal cupping sites on the body in a large body of literature that many still refer to today.