Cupping relaxes tight muscles, encourages healing, relieves pain, and helps relieve colds and flus. It has been part of Eastern and Western medical practice. One aspect of the Chinese medicine use of cupping is that it draws bad stuff out from deeper layers to the surface. The bad stuff could be blood that has thickened because its flow has been restricted in a tight muscle, or external pathogenic factors that are associated with colds and flus. This explanatory model is common to traditional cupping practices throughout Asia, Europe, and Africa. A possible biomedical explanation of how cupping helps with muscle tightness and pain is that it encourages phagocytosis to remove partially clotted blood. In this article, cupping guru Bruce Bentley reports that a tissue sample taken from an athlete that had been cupped at the Australian Institute of Sport, was analysed as containing “old blood”: “A Cupping Mark is not a Bruise”. Cupping also releases anti-inflammatory modulators and healing factors.
Cupping can also be used to remove internal pathogenic factors, or even to stimulate acupuncture points and meridians to boost metabolic function.