Advocate H C Manoharan, for instance, was willing to give the alternative therapy a shot after battling chronic back pain for years. “I couldn’t walk properly or even stand for more than five minutes. And none of the doctors I met over the years were able to offer relief,“ says Manoharan, who went to a clinic in Koyambedu, which offered cupping therapy in Chennai, about nine months ago. “Though I still have problem when I have to stand for long, my back is better and I am able to climb stairs,“ he says.
In cupping therapy, small cups, usually made of glass, are placed on the body part that needs healing. Though there are various types including dry , wet, and massage cupping, the technique is similar. Usually cotton, dipped in spirit, is lit in the glass cup. Since the flame burns away the oxygen in the cup, it creates a vacuum and a suction effect, which sticks the cup to the body . The cups are pulled away after a few minutes, leaving behind reddish purple bruises that fade with time.
Earlier, Hollywood celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Aniston have flaunted their cupping marks. While athletes often use it to ease aches and pains, practitioners in the city say they use it to treat everything from migraine and body ache to stress and depression.
Dr T N Parimala Selvi, therapist at Jayanth Acupuncture, Koyambedu, has been offering cupping in the city since 2014. “I use it in combination with acupuncture,“ says Selvi, who learned the technique from Korean Dr Kim Daewon. “We do wet cupping, which involves making small incisions on the skin to re move `harmful’ blood, and also dry cupping,“ says Selvi, adding that while they don’t get sportspersons, they get many patients suffering from arthritis and obesity.