Thursday, August 11, 2016

Blame it on Rio

Hello and welcome to "Ask Fake Doctor Mark M.D.", which will appear the second Tuesday of each week from here in this spot. Let's reach into the mailbag!

"Lance A." from Urinetest, Arizona, wants to know why it's so bad that he lied about taking drugs for all those years, and also what is this thing called "cupping," and could he have gotten away with using performance-enhancing drugs if people had been distracted by giant red sores all over his back.

Well, Mr Strongarm, cupping is the big thing going on at the Riolympics and among the happy hipsters everywhere.  I mean, once Gwyneth Paltrow does something, we all must follow like dominoes toppling (or when someone pulls out the bottommost can of peas from the display at Try 'N' Shop) and do what she does.

What it is, is an acupuncture technique in which a flammable liquid is lighted in a glass cup.  When the flame goes out, the drop in temperature creates suction, and the glass cups stick to your body.

And then...all that sucking pulls up the skin and makes the blood flow, which promotes healing, as anyone who has been to physical therapy has heard while being mauled by man and machine.

Hickey, not cuppey
The red spots stay on the skin for three or four days, just like their teenaged cousin, the hickey. 

Gymnasts, runners and swimmers are all over Rio with these cupping marks, and they swear by them, or at least at them. US gymnast Alex Naddour told USA Today that cupping was "better than any money I've spent on anything else".

Alex.  Stop by on your way home and let me tell you a couple of nice ways to drop your loot. 

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) says that on "rare occasions" the hot cups can cause mild burns, and recommends that you only go to cuppers who know how to cup right.

Pharmacologist Prof David Colquhoun, from University College London, dismissed cupping as "hocus pocus" and told the BBC: "It's just pulling up a bit of skin, it is not going to affect the muscle to any noticeable extent. And taken to extreme, it can cause harm, it usually doesn't, it's usually just a - what [British physician] Ben Goldacre would call - a voluntary tax on the gullible."

The picture at left is actually from an old medical textbook. There really is nothing new under the sun.

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