Some cheesy medical show on the television recently had a segment on an interesting old technique: cupping. This is a procedure related to bleeding, in which suction is used to draw blood to the surface. It’s absolutely useless, an artifact of old, discarded theories about humors, and it’s not something I ever thought I’d see practiced.
A modern twist on an ancient procedure promises big results in the treatment of pain. Tracy, 36, suffers from chronic back pain and writes The Doctors for help.
Acupuncturist Dr. Michael Yang performs a cupping procedure on Tracy, which, he explains, works on the same principles as a deep massage or physical therapy. The placement of heated glass cups on a person’s bare back serves to separate connective tissue, muscle and fascia, which subsequently increases circulation and decreases inflammation.
Chinese medicine purports that cupping moves “stagnant blood,” or stuck chi, or energy, as well as detoxifies the blood. “It’s been around for thousands of years,” Dr. Yang notes. “It’s really a tried and true therapy.”
Our acupuncturist throws around a lot of jargon, but it’s all a put-on, and he’s a quack. His therapy certainly has been tried, tried for a long, long time with no therapeutic effect (other than, perhaps, the placebo effect). Lots of things have been around for a long time, but that doesn’t make them correct. What’s he going to do next, sacrifice a goat, do a magic dance around the patient, and make her drink a potion made from mouse dung and boiled roots? People did that kind of thing for thousands of years, too.
It would probably make for good TV.