A cup of…?

As I continue to fight the good fight against my first respiratory infection of the season, I will serve you a few portions of learnin’ from the old blog. –PalMD

Cupping goes back millennia. In the U.S., the marks of cupping are often seen in immigrant communities, particularly those from Southeast Asia, and are often mis-identified as signs of abuse.

It’s an interesting practice, with many different explanations, depending on the culture. It’s often used to do the cultural equivalent of drawing out “ill humors”. Of course, there is no scientific basis for this. Historically it is interesting. At least, one would hope the interest were purely historic. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. Despite that fact that cupping is based on ancient, invalid ideas about health and disease, it is popular in cult medicine circles.

Take, for instance, this website.

Cupping therapy has been further developed as a means to open the ‘Meridians’ of the body. Meridians are the conduits in the body through which energy flows to every part of the body and through every organ and tissue. There are five meridians on the back that, when opened, allow invigorating energy to travel the whole length of the body. It has been found that cupping is probably the best way of opening those meridians.

Could someone please show me a meridian? If they truly “transport energy” it should be reasonably easy to find one.

Cupping has also been found to affect the body up to four inches into the tissues, causing tissues to release toxins, activate the lymphatic system, clear colon blockages, help activate and clear the veins, arteries and capillaries, activate the skin, clear stretch marks and improve varicose veins. Cupping is the best deep tissue massage available. Cupping, the technique, is very useful and very safe and can be easily learned and incorporated into your family health practices.

I actually like to see evidence of any of that. Colon?!? I never thought I’d see a connection between cupping and poo woo, but then, the cultists seem to be obsessed with the colon.

Cupping is an ancient medical technique based on pre-scientific understandings of human health. When you don’t have much to offer in the face of death and disease, you might naturally develop your own ideas about how the body works, and how to affect change.

Thankfully, we are no longer in a pre-scientific era. Most of us do not think its better to live in grass huts, hunt and eat disease ridden carcasses, and drink unsafe water. What is it about medicine that attracts such idiocy? Alternative medicine? What about alternative flying? Alternative physics? Alternative engineering?


Journal of Pediatric Health Care. Volume 18, Issue 3, May-June 2004, Pages 123-129. DOI:10.1016/j.pedhc.2003.11.004.