Is Cupping Okay for Catholics?

MD writes: “Is cupping OK for Christians to do?  My doctor suggested it for bursitis.”

Cupping is considered to be a pseudoscience because it’s based in Traditional Chinese Mediicine and has no scientific evidence to back up its claims.

A form of acupuncture dating back to about 3,000 B.C. by some estimations, cupping is based on the idea that suction from cups that draw up the skin can mobilize blood and “energy” around the body.

According to Ezard Ernst and Simon Singh in their book, Trick or Treatment: “Cupping is an ancient treatment that has been practiced in places such as China, Vietnam, the Balkans, Russia, Mexico and Iran. Essentially, the air in a glass cup is heated over a flame and the cup is then swiftly placed on the skin. As the air in the cup cools down, a vacuum develops which creates suction. This is visible as the skin and its underlying soft tissue are partly sucked into the cup. Sometimes the skin is lacerated beforehand, and the suction then draws blood from the cutaneous microcirculation. This form of cupping was popular in connection with bloodletting in Europe.”

It’s used to treat a variety of conditions from musculoskeletal problems to asthma and eczema. Some practitioners use it to treat infertility, influenza, and anemia. The treatments last about 20 minutes and repeat sessions are usually required. Because it is considered an alternative medical practice, it is employed mostly by naturopaths, acupuncturists and chiropractors.

“If someone is under stress, or they’ve suffered a physical trauma like a pulled shoulder, the energy in their body can become stagnated,” explained Ian Stones, an acupuncturist and member of the British Acupuncture Council, to the Daily Mail.

“Cupping enables the blood and energy to move again and travel to the area to begin the healing process. It can also have good results if someone is coming down with a cold. The suction can help to stop the cold penetrating further into the system.”

Or so they say.

In reality, there was only one controlled trial of cupping and it failed to demonstrate any effectiveness of this therapy in reducing pain; however, because it produces visible results, such as round marks on the skin, it is likely to generate an above-average number of placebo responses.

Christian should be aware that cupping is based in traditional Chinese medicine and is used as one of several ways to stimulate acupuncture points; therefore, it has the same underlying philosophy as acupuncture which is based on the belief that a universal life force known as chi runs through the body through 14 channels known as meridians. Practitioners believe that sickness can be caused by blockages in the flow of chi. In order to cure illness and other maladies, a needle or pressure is applied to any one of hundreds of points on the body known as acupoints that are positioned along the meridians and which are thought to correspond to specific organs or body systems.

Belief in a universal life force is part of a pantheistic world view and is thus incompatible with Christianity.

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