History of Chinese FireCupping
Could It Have Originated in the West?
People practiced fire cupping in Europe, Asia and Africa for thousands of years. It isn't clearly a Chinese invention. The Ebers Papyrus that is one of the oldest medical textbooks in the world describes that in 1550 B.C. the Egyptians used cupping. In ancient Greece, Hippocrates (~400 BC) prescribed cupping for diseases. This method in multiple forms spread throughout Asian and European societies.
In more recent times, it was even popular in the 1700s in Western Europe, and it is still done following the traditional European style in some Eastern European countries. It was also recommended by Mohamed. In Islamic countries, cupping is often associated with blood-letting to draw blood out. It is a common treatment in the Islamic world.
Western cupping is different than Chinese cupping, and it isn’t clear that it was a method adopted from abroad. Instead of putting fire inside the cup, in the West people may heat the cup with a flame or warm object held outside the cup. However, the effect is the same in that the blood and skin are pulled up. Western cupping doesn’t use the Chinese system of acupuncture points.
When Did It Appear in the East?
Archaeologists have found jars that might have been used for fire cupping about 1000 BC that is the time of the end of the Shang Dynastyera (1600? -1046? BC) and the beginning of the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BC) era.
However, the first written text describing cupping as a medical procedure is thought to be a text that was written after the Han Dynastyera (206 BC-220 AD) by Ge Hong called A Handbook of Prescriptions for Emergencies. The book text dates to about 300 AD, and this is much later than the earliest Western texts. Since written treatises about cupping predate Chinese records, maybe people adopted the technique from the West.
The Chinese Cupping Method
In China, cupping is used for high Yang issues such as bronchitis, coughs and colds. The Chinese think that these symptoms mean that there is too much Yang in the body. Through the fire cupping treatment or modern methods of applying suction to the skin such as by using suction pumps, they generally believe that some of the Yang factor can be removed so that the Yin and Yang balance can be restored.