Cupping treatment commonly referred to as Hijama, has been around for thousands of years, and developed over time from the original use of hollowed out animal horns to suck out and drain the toxins out of snakebites and skin lesions. Horns slowly evolved into bamboo cups, which were eventually replaced by glass. Therapeutic applications evolved with the refinement of the cup itself, and with the cultures that employed cupping as a health care technique.
The true origin of cupping treatment still remains uncertain to this day. Some consider the Chinese to be responsible for cupping. The earliest recorded use of cupping treatment from the famous alchemist and herbalist, Ge Hong (281-341 A.D.), which incorporates the popular saying “Acupuncture and cupping, more than half of the ills cured.”
The Chinese expanded the utilization of cupping to include its use in surgery to divert blood flow from the surgery site. By the 19th century, after much extensive research, a collaborative effort between the former Soviet Union and China confirmed the clinical efficacy of cupping therapy. Since then, cupping has become a mainstay of government-sponsored hospitals of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
The earliest record of pictorial record of cupping was discovered in Egypt around 1500 B.C.. Translations of the hieroglyphic text about ancient medicine detailed the use of cupping for conditions such as fever, pain, vertigo, menstrual imbalances, weakened appetites and accelerating the “healing crisis” of disease. From the Egyptians, cupping was introduced to the ancient Greeks, where Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, recommended the use of cups for a variety of disorders such angina and menstrual irregularities.
Eventually, cupping treatmentspread to ancient cultures in many countries of Europe and even the Americas. Throughout the 18th century, European and American doctors widely used cupping in their practice to treat common colds and chest infections, often in the form of Wet or Blood Cupping. Also known as Artificial Leeching and Hijamah in Muslim societies.
By the late 1800′s and the newly established scientific model of medicine, cupping was severely criticized and discredited. The new model defined medicine by making the body transparent, focusing on and treating the inside, in preference to the outside. Since cupping was a surface treatment, it was inconsistent with this new Medical paradigm, which had shifted away from hands on manipulative therapies.
After decades of being reduced to the curiosity of the past to collect dust on a shelf, cupping today has re-emerged as a subtle, yet powerful healing modality that can complement many health modalities ranging from spa treatments to medical massage and physical therapy.