Cupping has been used in China for thousands of years. It used to be done with cattle horns and was also known as ‘horn therapy’ were the practitioner literally sucked the air out of the horn through its tip to create the required suction. Cupping was often originally used to treat boils and to remove pus.
In 1550 BC the Egyptians used cupping to remove ‘foreign matter’ from the body. Cupping was used to treat a wide variety of illness but was also used to preserve health. The Egyptians passed cupping on to the Greeks, who then used it extensively. In the 1600s cupping was used in Italy. Most of the cupping done was ‘wet cupping’ where the skin was pierced before the cup was applied with the objective of drawing blood. It wasn’t until the 1900s that ‘dry cupping’ (no blood drawing) became popular. Breast cupping was used on women with underdeveloped or inflamed breasts.
Cupping all but died out in America and Europe in the early 20th century. The last bastions of cupping in America were in the immigrant parts of large cities where cupping was no longer done by physicians, it was being done my barbers and the like. Signs saying ‘Cupping for Colds’ could be seen in many barber shop windows.
Today cupping is still practiced in the household by Turks and Greeks, but elsewhere remains an integral part of Chinese medicine. Cupping in melbourne is readily available at Chinese medicine clinics.