Natural Healing: Blood Letting

in Natural Medicine2 years ago (edited)

There are usually several practices among indigenous people of every society that sometimes defy scientific explanations but seem to have been working for these people for as old as the practices. A few days back, I met a family friend who tagged on a ride with me on a trip on her way to Ghana while my own trip terminates in Lagos. Curious to know why she was traveling to Ghana, I struck up a conversation with her during the 200 km journey from my original base. It was from there I understood that she was on her way to attend to a client who needed bloodletting therapy. What under the heaven is that? I am certain some of you are already asking.

Bloodletting is an age-long practice that was thought to have originated from ancient Egypt. It is deeply rooted in the belief that the basis of all health-related issues is the presence of 'bad blood' in the body and if the bad blood can be removed from the body by a suitable means, the body will return to its normal physiological functioning. The practice represented the first recommended line of treatment for virtually all forms of ill healths ranging from migraine to smallpox back in those days.

The practice became acceptable even in Europe, through the Greeks in the third century before christ before spreading to India and the Arab nations. Notable people that have been a subject of the practice include French Queen, Marie-Antoinette, while giving birth to her first child and American first president, George Washington, although the latter later died from what was believed to be complications associated with the procedure.

As science became a subject and scientists started researching the effectiveness of the procedure against different ailments, the practice started losing popularity with modernization because scientists could not find any evidence in support of the effectiveness of the practice. Despite the claims and even with the modernization and the technology, some people still have a strong belief in the practice as a solution to different health-related issues. Anecdotal evidence also abounds to support the effectiveness of the practice and notable folks like Michael Phelps, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Victoria Beckham, and Justin Bieber have all demonstrated their belief in the age-long practice.

Cupping massage being conducted on a patient. Image by Massagenerds on pxhere

With the advancement in science and technology, the procedure for carrying bloodletting has undergone a significant revolution and has been modernized to be safer and less painful to patients. A practice that started by opening up veins with a sharp object and allowing blood to flow from the opening into a container or by placing blood leeches on some specific parts of the body to suck off the bad blood now uses a series of modern equipment that ensures that the bad blood aggregates before using sterile scalpels to create incisions to the skin areas containing the aggregated blood before using a suction method to drain off the blood into receptacles.

Effectiveness of Blood Letting (Cupping)

The effectiveness of the modern-day blooding letting, popularly known as cupping remains a source of debate among the various stakeholders concerned with scientists claiming that it solves nothing and that the healing effects being reported by individuals that are into the practice is only due to the placebo effect.

A review carried out in 2012 by Huijuan Cao and his colleagues on the efficacy of cupping found that the practice may help with ill-health conditions such as herpes zoster, cough and dyspnea, lumbar disc herniation, cervical spondylosis, and other forms of diseases. Even though the researchers recommended that further studies on the subject may be required to further strengthen their assertion, their findings indicate that the effectiveness of cupping being reported by individuals may be more than just placebo effects as opposed to the claims by some scientists.

In 2018, Al-Bedah and his co-researcher set out to explain the effects and mechanisms behind the various therapy that have been attributed to the practice of cupping. They proposed Six theories to explain the various healing effects that have been reported by the practice and these include Pain-gate theory, Reflex zone theory, and Diffuse Noxious Inhibitory Controls theory to explain the pain-reducing or analgesic effects, Nitric Oxide theory to explain the muscle relaxation, changes in local tissue structures and increase in blood circulation effects, Activation of immune system theory to explain immunological effects and hormonal adjustments effects, while Blood Detoxification Theory was used to explain the releasing of toxins and removal of wastes and heavy metals effects.

Blood Letting: To do or not to do?

Several anecdotal pieces of evidence exist to back up the effectiveness of cupping. Scientists, however, have tried to downplay these healing effects by attributing them to be purely placebo effects. Not just that, they also highlighted the downsides of engaging in the practice which include the risks of getting infections as well as excessive bleeding during the procedure. Despite the negativity, many people, including some of the world's most notable people are still engaging in it. The onus is therefore on individuals to find do their own research and find a break-even point.

Perhaps one of the reasons that this practice continues to gain acceptance in some quarters is the fact that several health-related issues exist that science is yet to find answers to and which conventional medicines have failed to treat. Anyone afflicted with such ill-health would definitely be willing to try out any form of the healing process, even if it has some dangers.

Thank you all for reading.


It is very curious, and for that reason it draws a lot of attention between these two sides of the coin. The truth is that, like this, there are many ancient healing practices, which are strange and which also record numbers of "healed" people. Of course, the numbers are nothing if there is no formal record or at least statistics, with studies of the great scientists of those times. Evidence is important, a lot of people believe that elves exist, just because a lot of people say they have seen them and yet there are no bones or anything. But when you yourself see a goblin, you think ''if I say this I will look like a madman and if I don't say it I am hiding a great mystery of humanity, and it would not be ''politically'' correct'' And then you have to decide xd

I think there was a time in my country when this practice was at its economic peak for pharmaceutical companies. Suddenly, there were commercials and newscasts that many people were healed thanks to this, they showed the procedure and the contact number to hire the service. It was like a spa service linked to a doctor's appointment. I don't know how long it lasted, but it was short, because then we never heard or saw anything about it again and people forgot about it.


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Which is your country? It is a normal thing for conventional pharmaceutical companies to campaign against natural healing practices such as cupping. I'm actually surprised the adverts made it through to the tvs. There are government bottlenecks against such practices in many countries.

 2 years ago 

lumbar disc hibernation

Did you mean herniation?

Thanks. Will effect the typo immediately

I'm not sure normal cupping and bloodletting are exactly the same thing, although the general concept is the same, but with cupping the blood doesn't exit the skin....and there is also blood cupping, which is probably the same as bloodletting. I have a cupping gadget that I bought for $20 and I do it on myself about 2-3 times a month. I don't need a scientific study because the results are SOOOOO obvious if you have severe tightness and find the right point at the right time. For my the top and back of my shoulders and the outside corner of my shoulder blades almost always leaves me feeling noticeably better. If you were to feel my back beforehand and afterwards, you'd notice the difference. Other points, it depends on the day for me.

Cupping doesn't hurt at all unless you cup too hard and then the skin can be slightly damaged, or you can develop a blister. They are not fun but not any more dangerous than a scratch. I think the only time cupping can be dangerous is when its done near a vital artery, or maybe on a pregnant women or someone with serious blood pressure or heart issues, though I'm not an expert. It feels awkward the first 2-3 times but after that it's easy.

I've tried blood cupping before and it was intense and very unpleasant. BUT it did make me even more sure that it works because of the color and texture of the blood that came out of problem points was obviously different.

Still if there is severe imbalance in the body (dislocated bones or spinal issues), healthy habits must be maintained otherwise the results will fade very quickly.

I don't recommend blood cupping unless you trust the practitioner and know it's a very clean place.

I decided not to go into the technical details of trying to differentiate the two - blood letting and cupping. Actually, cupping can be the dry type just like the one you conduct on yourself, the other one being labeled wet cupping because the skin has to be incised to let out the blood. I have never tried cupping but I am more than anxious to do it now, especially the one without letting out the blood. My dad has this unexplainable ill health that has defy medical explanation. I might recommend him to try out cupping as well.

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Cupping is still common in Cambodia, I am my family's former home. Also something that is borderline blood-letting that they still do is scratching. It is usually done with the tab of a soft drink can, and they make scratches all over the back of a person with a cold or the flu, and it is believed to help.

I am not in that camp myself, but the power of placebo is incredible, and anyways, there is still no cure for the common cold anyhow.

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