Ivan Zamorano

Acupunture Treatment

Cupping Therapy and its Mechanisms of Action

Cupping Therapy and its Mechanisms of Action


Hello listeners, What are the possible scientific
‘mechanisms of action’ underlining cupping therapy? A simple answer is, currently
there is no scientific consensus that justifies cupping therapy
beyond the effects of a placebo. However, several peripheral
scientific opinions have been proposed to explain the effects
of cupping therapy. Broadly, these opinions fall
into four categories: Firstly, cupping therapy has
psychological effects Secondly, cupping therapy
simply works by social factors. In other words, individuals who
get cupping done see themselves part of a social group and thus
they feel better. Thirdly, cupping therapy works
by a placebo effect. And fourthly, cupping therapy has
physiological benefits. I shall only focus on the fourth opinion,
that is, physiological benefits of cupping therapy, which include: elimination of toxins,
counter-irritation, gate-theory-of-pain, and modern laboratory findings. Firstly, elimination of toxins. The proponents
of this idea hold that the build-up of toxins is the main reason for the illness. Therefore,
elimination of toxins needs to be facilitated by the increase in the circulation of the
blood. More recently, this is understood to be secondary to the action of vasodilators
including adenosine, noradrenaline and histamine. Secondly, counter-irritation. The proponents
of this idea believe that cupping therapy works by relieving pressure from deep structures
and transferring it to another region. Thirdly, some researchers have theorized the
gate-theory-of-pain to explain the action of cupping therapy. They argue that the pain
gates are overwhelmed by the sensory stimulation which leads to the higher frequency of impulses
that cause the closure of the pain gates. Fourthly, modern laboratory findings. These
include the effects of cortisol in activating anti-stress and anti-inflammatory pathways.
The effects of dopamine which functions as a neurotransmitter and acts on the reward
pathway in the brain. The effects of endorphins which give euphoria and decrease the reaction,
perception or intolerance to pain. The effects of altered immune system and localized inflammatory
markers such as the Tumour necrosis factor and interferon. And the effects of reduced
fibrinogen, haematocrit, and haemoglobin and removal of higher concentrations of abnormal
cells such as target cells. To conclude, more research needs to be done
in the field of cupping therapy to prove, disprove and thus justify the benefits of
cupping therapy and its mechanisms of action. I think there should be an integrated approach
between cupping therapy and conventional medicine in areas where conventional medicine fails. Thanks for listening. I see you next time.

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