Although the origin of the therapy first appeared in China, French daily, Le Figaro, somehow connects it with Islam.
The French newspaper Le Figaro on Sunday carried an article about cupping therapy, and described it as "hell of Islamic exorcism, which is spreading in France."
Although it is a popular treatment in Muslim societies, its roots can be found in ancient East Asian cultures.
The therapy method has been an integral part of many East Asian medical systems. According to historians, Ge Hong, a middle rung southern official who served the Jin dynasty, was one of the early pioneers of this technique. The Taoist alchemist and herbalist wrote about cupping around 300 AD and it has remained popular ever since.
Ge Hong believed that with acupuncture and cupping, "more than half of the ills" can be cured.
The method found its way through Asia and Europe. In 1465, Serefeddin Sabuncuoglu, a Turkish surgeon, also recommended this technique. He called it “mihceme.”
In Japan, cupping (kyukaku) is still used together with some acupuncture and massage techniques.
Cupping therapy is still widely used in traditional Chinese medicine. It consists of creating local suction on the skin using either heat (fire) or mechanical devices (hand or electrical pumps). It is widely believed this method draws out toxins, mobilizes blood flow, soothes muscle pain and, in some cases, helps cure insomnia.
The method eventually became popular and gained attention from the outside world. Even the English literary giant George Orwell wrote about receiving the treatment as a remedy for pneumonia in a French hospital in 1929.
In his essay, “How the Poor Die,” Orwell says he was surprised to see cupping practised as a method of treatment in a hospital in Paris.
Orwell explained how he was initially dry-cupped and then bled with wet cupping. He described the process as “a treatment which you can read about in old medical textbooks but which till then I had vaguely thought of as one of those things they do to horses,” reflecting the waning popularity of cupping in his time.
Over the last few years, the therapy has been widely used by athletes, celebrities, such as Madonna, Justin Bieber, and also popular champions like swimmer Michael Phelps, likewise the Muslim society.
However, ignoring the main roots and truths about the therapy, the French daily in its article, "In the hell of Islamic exorcism spreading in France" called cupping a "Muslim prophetic medicine" that has been developed in the "strictest secrecy for several years."
In the Le Figaro article, while referring to "migraines, depression, evil eye, witchcraft, the author says, "When the advice of friends and the love of a family are powerless, when reason has become the slave of passion or relationship problems multiply, roqya becomes necessary".
"There are many ailments that this Islamic exorcism claims to cure," Steve Tenre, the author of the article added while alleging that the creators of cupping therapy promote "self-healing" through "trust in Allah."
Calling the practice a cause for concern for the French authorities, Le Figaro’s debatable handling of the issue has sparked massive criticism, with the daily highlighting that the therapy was created "under the guise of severity”.
The European Union correspondent for the Financial Times, Mehreen Khan, said on Twitter, “Not a parody: apparently serious newspaper @lefigaro describes popular cupping therapy used by athletes and celebrities like Justin Bieber and Madonna as the "hell of Islamic exorcism which is spreading in France...under the guise of rigour".
Not a parody: apparently serious newspaper @lefigaro describes popular cupping therapy used by athletes and celebrities like Justin Bieber and Madonna as the "hell of Islamic exorcism which is spreading in France...under th guise of rigour" 😂 https://t.co/unPKEHfuTA— Mehreen (@MehreenKhn) April 5, 2021
"It's almost admirable that in even in the midst of a genuine public health and medical emergency, @lefigaro have the enduring capacity to find the real Islamist health conspiracy that is destroying the Fifth Republic. One cup at a time," she added.
Also known as ‘Hacamat’ which is derived from the Arabic word "hacm", cupping was also one of the Sunnas (practices) of the Prophet Muhammad, but the method was first used by East Asian societies.