Cupping Therapy Encyclopedia - New Edition - Tamer Shaban - ebook

This book describes the history, methods, and techniques of cupping therapy and provides practical guidelines for cupping therapy home use and professional practice. It provides a new classification of cupping therapy types, cupping therapy sets, and a classification of cupping therapy adverse events. It looks closely at issues of mechanism of action, side effects, treatment programs, and safety. It contains many clear illustrations and provides a practical guideline for treating many common diseases. It includes new scientific research and clinical examples. This book can serve as a useful reference for complementary and alternative medicine therapists, medical physicians, medical students, healthcare professionals, researchers, and people interested in natural health, integrative medicine, self-care, and treatment.

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Cupping Therapy Encyclopaedia

New Edition

Tamer Shaban

Copyright 2018 © Tamer Shaban


Although the author and publisher have made every effort to ensure that the information in this book was correct at press time, the author and publisher do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause..

All information in this publication is for educational and information purposes only. Please consult your own physician for diagnosis or treatment of any health-related problems. The publisher and author are not responsible for any specific health or allergy needs that may require medical supervision and are not liable for any damages or negative consequences from any treatment, action, application or preparation, to any person reading or following the information in this book. The Information on This publication does not dispense medical or professional advice, nor do they prescribe any treatment or strategy that should be tested without the advice of a professional. This book is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of physicians. The reader should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to his/her health and particularly with respect to any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

Chapter 1

Traditional and Complementary medicine

What is complementary medicine?

Complementary medicine (CM) is a group of healing methods, practices or treatments outside the mainstream healthcare system. Complementary medicine may be used together alongside Western medicine and includes therapies such as acupuncture, cupping, aromatherapy, massage, and much more.

Alternative medicine is the use of traditional healing practices instead of conventional medicine. However, most non-mainstream health practices are used together with conventional medicine.

What is integrative medicine?

Integrative medicine has variety of definitions, but describes the use of complementary and conventional medicine practices in a coordinated way.

What is traditional medicine?

Traditional medicine is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). " Traditional medicine is the sum total of the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness."

In Africa, up to 80% of the population uses traditional medicine for primary health care, while 30-50% in China use traditional medicine, 70% in Canada, 50% in Europe and North America, and 90% in Germany, as shown in figure (1). The World Health Organization supports the use of traditional and complementary medicine and published the "WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014–2023" and "WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2002–2005". The sixty-second World Health Assembly, held in Geneva from 18 to 22 May 2009, encouraged participating countries to consider traditional and complementary medicine as an important part of the healthcare system.

Why do people use traditional and complementary therapies?

People use complementary medicine for a variety for reasons. In some countries, traditional medicine is one of the main sources available for providing primary healthcare services, especially in rural areas. Traditional medicine is a part of some countries' cultures, so people turn to these healing methods due to their beliefs and historical use. And sometimes, people use traditional medicine as a complementary method of healing, especially in developed countries, for many reasons.

Data extracted from WHO (World Health Organization) website – traditional medicine

Many insurance companies offer professional liability coverage for complementary and alternative medicine practitioners and therapists.

According to the National Health Interview Survey, adults in the United States spent about $33.9 billion on alternative therapies in 2007. Most expenses ($22 billion) covered self-care products, materials, classes and homeopathic medicine, and $11.9 billion was spent on practitioner visits. There are 38.1 million adults who made an estimated 354.2 million visits to practitioners, most of these visits to body-based and manipulative complementary and alternative medicine practitioners.

Cupping Therapy


Cupping Therapy is an old treatment method in which cups are applied to certain points or areas on the skin, either by heat or suction, to get health benefits.

History of Cupping

Cupping Therapy is one of the oldest healing techniques. It has been practiced effectively for thousands of years and was the base of healing practices for many of those years. Cupping Therapy has been practiced by most of the world, east and west. No one knows exactly where the root of Cupping Therapy practice was. The Ancient Chinese and Ancient Egyptians were the first to record their practice of it and as a matter of fact, most ancient medical textbooks that mention Cupping Therapy were written by ancient Egyptians.

Cupping Therapy in Egypt

Cupping Therapy was practiced in Egypt for thousands of years. The ancient medical book known as the Ebers papyrus was written in 1550 B.C.E, but is believed to have been rewritten from earlier texts, so the information it contains may be even older. The Ebers Papyrus contains about 110 pages, which when unrolled would be more than 20 meters long. The Ebers Papyrus mentions Cupping Therapy. Ancient Egyptians used wet cupping to remove foreign matter from the body. They prescribed Cupping Therapy for most diseases, and passed the practice on to the Greeks.

Cupping Therapy in China

Chinese medicine is one of the oldest medical systems in the world. TCM, or traditional Chinese medicine, uses many healing therapies and practices including acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage and Cupping Therapy. Cupping Therapy is a cornerstone in Chinese medicine. It was used successfully for thousands of years for the treatment of many illnesses.

The oldest discovered book to mention cupping in China was written by Ge Hong (281-341 AD). Several centuries later, the classic book Su Sen Liang Fang recorded successful treatment of chronic cough and snake bites by Cupping Therapy.

In the 1950s, the efficacy of Cupping Therapy was confirmed by medical research done in cooperation between China and Soviet Union.

Cupping Therapy is used to stimulate acupuncture points and remove Qi stagnation in the meridians and organs. The points are selected on meridians according to diagnosis of the practitioner and various Chinese medical theories of treatment. Andrew Nugent-Head reports "The use of ashi points (pain points) as the most practical approach to clinical acupuncture".

We can note that stimulation of pain points by cupping, acupuncture or massage is one of the principals of Chinese Medicine.

Greek History of Cupping

Hippocrates (460 BC –370 BC) was one of the greatest figures in the history of medicine and is called the father of western medicine. The Hippocratic Oath was the first medical ethical expression. Modified versions of the Hippocratic Oath are still a requirement to practice medicine in many countries. Hippocrates recommended using Cupping Therapy for a variety of diseases.

Hippocratic physicians used Cupping Therapy for treatment of two conditions in women: uterine prolapse, treated by applying cups on the hip, and postponing menstruation by applying cups to the breasts.

Galen (Galenus) (129 AD – 210 AD) was one of the most famous Greek physicians and medical researchers. Galen contributed to the fields of anatomy, physiology, pathology, pharmacology and neurology. Galen was a user of Cupping Therapy and he condemned Erasistratus, an Alexandrian physician, for not using cupping.

Then the art of Cupping Therapy was passed through the Alexandrians and Byzantines to Arab Muslims and Asians.

Cupping Therapy in Arabic and Islamic culture

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) treated by cupping (hijama in Arabic) and encouraged his fellows to use cupping (hijama) for the treatment of diseases. He said, “Cupping (hijama) is the best of your remedies.”

The points of Prophetic Sunnah: The prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) used Cupping Therapy as treatment by applying cups on certain points called "Sunnah points". They are about nine points in total.

Prophetic Sunnah points are:

Kahil point: This is a point between the shoulders around the 7th cervical vertebra .

Akhdaain points: These are two points related to the right and left posterior external jugular veins.

Yafookh point: This is located on the top of the head in the middle.

Kumohdwuah point: This is located at the base of the skull above the nape cavity.

Werk points: These are two points located on the left and right of the hips.

Top of Foot Points: Two points are located on the tops of the feet.

From these teachings, we can note that:

Cupping Therapy on pain points was an Islamic and prophetic medical principal. Between 1 to 3 points are used in each session.

Prophetic Medicine (Al-Tibb al-Nabawi):

This is one of the most famous Islamic books and was written by Ibn Qayyim al Jawziyya. It mentions Cupping Therapy as a medical practice.

Muhammad Ibn Zakaryia Al-Razi (865 – 925) was one of the best physicians and scientists in history; he was the first to differentiate smallpox from measles, and was described as the father of pediatrics. He benefited from Cupping Therapy in his treatment of many diseases.

Ibn sīnā (Avicenna) (980– 1037) was one of the most famous physicians in history, and author of the well-known Book of Healing and The Canon of Medicine. The Canon of Medicine was used as a textbook in the university of Montpellier as late as 1650. The Canon of Medicine stated that cupping was known to be effective on more than 30 different diseases.

Cupping Therapy in the West

From the Egyptians, Ancient Chinese and Greeks, cupping spread to the entire world. Cupping Therapy became a popular therapy among European and American doctors, practiced successfully for a wide range of diseases during the eighteenth century and after. Much historically published research reported the efficacy or benefits of Cupping Therapy during the nineteenth century. Charles Kennedy, a famous surgeon, wrote in 1826:“The art of cupping has been so well-known, and the benefits arising from it so long experienced, that it is quite unnecessary to bring forward testimonials in favor of what has received not only the approbation of modern times, but also the sanction of the remotest antiquity.”

Sir Arthur Keith (1866 –1955) was a Scottish anatomist and a fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons of England and the president of the Royal Anthropological Institute. He was famous because he discovered the sino-atrial node in 1907. Sir Arthur Keith wrote how he witnessed cupping performed with excellent success.

Chronological Cupping Methods

Horn Therapy and Mouth Suction:

Horn therapy was one of the oldest techniques of Cupping Therapy. Horn therapy involved using a hollow animal horn with an opening on its tip and a piece of wax or a wad of dried grass to close this opening after applying suction. The ancient therapist created the suction by sucking air out with the mouth from the opening on the horn tip. When the preferred suction was achieved, the therapist put in the dried grass or wax with his tongue to close this opening.

Bamboo Cupping and Fire Suction:

Bamboo Cupping Therapy was developed later. It involved using bamboo for making cups. One end of the cup should be closed by a natural grass. Fire is used to apply suction inside the cup by putting a small piece of paper on the bottom of the bamboo cup and burning it. Skin burns are a risk of this method.

Metal Cups:

Cups made from metal, especially bronze, were used for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks used these cups. Many ancient bronze cups were discovered which dated back to 300 BCE and beyond. Various medical history and science museums presented ancient bronze cups.

Glass Cups:

Glass cups were used for thousands of years. Ancient Romans used glass cups, which dated back to 251-400 AD. Glass cups were developed over centuries. Therapists could apply suction by fire when an ordinary glass cup was used or by suction pump when certain glass cups with a valve on top were used. Glass cups had some advantages, such as their transparency and the ability to sterilize them.

Manual Suction:

Manual suction pump was developed between 1930 and 1940 by putting a valve at the top of the cup and making suction by a manual pump that could make suction of air possible without fire. In 1940, many medical product companies began to make and sell these cupping sets.

Development of historical scarification device:

A scarificator was developed to be used in phlebotomy or bloodletting. The instrument had many retracing blades which were fired by moving a certain trigger.  A scarificator was used to produce a number of wounds as a part of bloodletting therapy.  The depth and shape of blades were expected to produce deep large wounds. This method is no longer used.

Auto-lancing device is a recent modern scarificator. Auto-lancing device may produce one or three punctures according to the number of needles inside the device. These single use needles are commonly used as apart of blood sugar measurement devices. The nedles produce small punctures. You can control the depth of the puncture by a ring control on the device.

Automatic Suction:

Electrical Cupping Therapy involves a new method of suction developed recently. There are many electrical vacuum devices available, including an electrical pump, electrical suction apparatus and electrical suction machines that measure the pressure inside the cup. These devices are commonly used in beauty centers and hospitals.

Modern Cupping Therapy

Today there are thousands of centers around the world offering dry, wet and massage cupping treatments and courses. They are located in many countries, including the USA, Europe, South Africa, Middle East, Turkey and the United Kingdom. Many professional associations around the world support these modalities, and many insurance companies offer coverage for some integrative and complementary therapy treatments.