Yes, cupping has been around that long and has been used by Oriental Medical Doctors, this includes Acupuncturists, all this time. And yes, it does work! We're currently seeing and hearing about it thanks to this years 2016 Summer Olympics!
Cupping is an extremely beneficial therapy. It serves to relieve aches and pains, improve circulation, release pathogenic heat and help regulate many of the bodies functions such as digestion, respiration, etc. A specialized "cup" commonly made of glass or plastic, is place on specific points throughout the body. Suction is then used to draw your skin up into the cups. Glass cups require fire, usually a lit cotton ball, to pull the oxygen out of the cup so that it creates suction against your skin. The plastic cups use a pump to do the same. You retain the cups anywhere from 2-5 minutes (some practitioners leave them up to 15 minutes).
Cupping doesn't hurt, it simply draws fresh blood into that area of your body, which facilitates cleansing and strengthening of your Qi (energy) and blood. Often, blood, lactic acid and other impurities or toxins, get stuck in certain areas of the body. This can happen in various ways from overuse of a muscle, injury, or sitting for long periods of time. The blood vessels in the skin are generally flowing freely so by pulling some stagnant blood and other components to the skin level, those impurities can now better be eliminated by the bodies circulatory system rather than continuing to cause problems at deeper levels.
The only draw back is that you'll have "cupping marks" or "hickey's" for a few days after cupping is done. You may see the word bruise used to describe these marks but this is not a proper term as the marks are not bruises. A bruise, by definition, is an injury appearing as an area of discolored skin on the body, caused by a blow or impact rupturing underlying blood vessels. No blow or impact occurs during cupping thus a bruise is not the result.
Cupping can be done alone or in conjunction with other therapies such as acupuncture, to have a deeper affect. It is a simple, painless method to help keep your body healthy and functioning at it's best. I absolutely advise that you only have it done by a licensed Acupuncturist or Oriental Medical Doctor! We are trained in cupping, we understand the uses and have a lot of practical experience with it even though it seems "easy to do". There's always inherent danger, especially when performing fire cupping. Your safest in the hands of a professional. You can come to me or look to me as a reference to find a qualified practitioner.
If the discoloration is bothersome, you can always apply arnica and take warm baths to help disperse the marks more quickly. Again, I strongly recommend you find a licensed Acupuncturist or Oriental Medical Doctor to do cupping for you. Contact me with any questions!
Please also, share the knowledge! It helps keep us all safe and healthy!