A memory from my childhood: I am lying with my back bare, my mother sets fire to a torch made of cotton wool soaked on scissors and soaked in alcohol, alternately lowers it into round glass containers and puts them on my back. Banks suck. It looks exciting, it doesn’t hurt and I’m not hot, but the test of boredom begins: it’s impossible to read, and my mother, of course, can read aloud, but first you need to remove everything dangerous – and every minute of waiting seems endless. Another nuisance is that the back will itch at some point, but if you move, the tightness is broken, one of the cans comes off.
It was in the eighties – no one heard about evidence-based medicine, there were no private clinics . It was believed that it is best to be treated by acquaintance, for greater efficiency, supplementing the usual methods with folk and alternative ones. To some of the latter, not everyone had access – I am sure that both cans and alcohol with cotton wool parents could get only thanks to my mother’s work as a teacher in a medical school. As we now understand, the placebo effect skyrocketed also due to the “elitism” of the method: since something is so difficult to get, then something should definitely work.
Thirty years have passed, people have photographed a black hole in space, learned to use the immune system to treat cancer, came up with smartphones and wireless everything – but they continue to put banks. On the query “cupping”, the search engine gives out more than 14 million results, including whole canning clinics and home kits . It is no longer necessary to burn them, the jars have become soft, and to suck them to the skin, it is enough to deform them with your fingers, and clinics charge more for setting glass jars, presenting it almost as “treatment with fire.” They are advised to use them for about everything, from the treatment of colds and back pain to the elimination of cellulite (which continues to be called a “disadvantage”).
The mechanisms of action of cans, as is often the case with traditional medicine, are described in very abstract, but loud phrases – they “draw out toxins”, “improve” blood circulation and lymph flow, whatever that means, “remove heat from the body,” or even ” Eliminate adhesions in the muscles.” As additional arguments, they cite the love of celebrities for banks: cupping therapy is done by Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham and, of course, the lover of alternative medicine Gwyneth Paltrow. The stars are believed, and they should probably think about the consequences before broadcasting pseudoscientific and unsafe concepts, be it another diet or vitamin drips .
Cupping can lead
to irreversible discoloration of the skin, burns and scars, complicate the course of eczema
A new wave of cans’ popularity began in 2016, when pictures of Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps with characteristic round spots on the back and shoulders spread all over the Internet . It turned out that banks are practiced by other prominent athletes, including tennis player Andy Murray and gymnast Alex Naddur . And then a typical logical mistake is triggered: athletes are people with amazing physical abilities, athletes put cans, and now it seems to us that it is thanks to the banks that they are so healthy and strong. In addition, we do not see many hours of daily training, we do not know about a carefully calculated scheme of recovery, sleep, nutrition – but we see traces of cupping in the photo and draw rapid conclusions. As if an Olympic athlete or his coach couldn’t be wrong.
Can banks at least cure something and help something? The method is really ancient, and some research has been done on it – it is usually referred to by proponents of cupping. True, it is worth taking a closer look – and it turns out that these studies are of low quality and it is impossible to draw final conclusions on them. It is possible that cans help reduce pain – but not a fact, especially since pain is a subjective indicator, which is significantly influenced by the placebo effect. Even sources that should be loyal to such treatment methods speak about the insufficient volume and quality of data – for example, the Journal of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine indicates the need for additional research, and the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine says that today there is no reason to recommend cupping to athletes for any purpose.
In the beauty sector, banks are being promoted almost as an alternative to surgical interventions or botox, but it is obvious that they will not give any pronounced effect. Cupping massage helps to get rid of puffiness for a short time, and the opportunity to lie with your eyes closed, surrounded by pleasant smells is always invaluable – so if you want special radiance and fit before an important event, you can go for a regular massage or care procedure. For a pronounced and long-term effect, it is better to turn to retinol or laser treatments. As for cellulite – banks can help smooth the skin for a while, but they won’t work miracles; it is worth remembering that most people have cellulite and it is more profitable to spend your money and time on something else.
The website of the US National Center for Complementary and Integrative Medicine says that in addition to the obvious temporary marks that resemble bruises, cupping can lead to irreversible discoloration of the skin, burns and scars, complicate the course of eczema or psoriasis, and in rare cases, complications such as intracranial bleeding. Burns appear when the glass of the jar itself is heated by fire, and not the air inside – this, by the way, is said in the material describing cupping not as a method of treatment, but as a BDSM practice. An alternative medicine journal lists other possible unwanted effects , including dizziness, headache, fatigue, and insomnia. In general, as with any alternative methods, there is no question of complete safety, so one cannot expect that the method will not harm, even if it does not help.