Dear Dr. Walt,
I was watching the summer Olympics and saw quite a few of the athletes with large bruises on their bodies. I’ve not seen that before. What was going on?
—Observant in Oklahoma
Dear Sharp Eyes,
The round bruises you saw on several of the athletes is the result of cupping, a therapeutic method employed in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) in which a heated cup is applied over an area of the body.
As the air inside the cup cools, its volume decreases, thus creating a slight suction on the area that is said to stimulate blood circulation.
Some experts say cupping has been employed across the diverse traditions of acupuncture and oriental medicine for over 2,000 years.
According to the experts at the Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database, cupping is “possible safe when applied short-term and appropriately by experienced practitioners.”
They add that “adverse events from cupping are rare and most clinical research evaluating cupping therapy lacks reports of serious adverse events.”
However, they also say that there is “insufficient reliable evidence” that cupping works for any condition in which it has been studied, including, but not limited to, back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, the common cold, muscle soreness, neck pain, neuropathic pain, or osteoarthritis.
© Copyright WLL, INC. 2017. This blog provides a wide variety of general health information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from your regular physician. If you are concerned about your health, take what you learn from this blog and meet with your personal doctor to discuss your concerns.