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Acupunct Med 28:200-204 doi:10.1136/aim.2010.002329
  • Original papers

Developing and validating a sham cupping device

  1. Byung-Cheul Shin4
  1. 1Division of Standard Research, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, South Korea
  2. 2Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, College of Oriental Medicine, Kyung Hee University Medical Center, Seoul, South Korea
  3. 3Division of Clinical Medicine, College of Oriental Medicine, Wonkwang University Hospital, Iksan, South Korea
  4. 4Division of Clinical Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan, South Korea
  1. Correspondence to Dr Byung-Cheul Shin, Division of Clinical Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, South Korea; drshinbc{at}gmail.com
  1. Contributors MSL and J-IK developed the sham cupping device and design the experimental procedures, interpretation of the data, drafting the manuscript and critical revision of the article. D-HL and JCK contributed to experimental set-up and procedures of the study. B-CS designed the experimental procedures, interpretation of the data, drafting the manuscript and critical revision of the article.

  • Accepted 10 May 2010
  • Published Online First 19 July 2010

Abstract

Objectives The aims of this study were to develop a sham cupping device and to validate its use as a placebo control for healthy volunteers.

Methods A sham cupping device was developed by establishing a small hole to reduce the negative pressure after suction such that inner pressure could not be maintained in the cup. We enrolled 34 healthy participants to evaluate the validity of the sham cupping device as a placebo control. The participants were informed that they would receive either real or sham cupping and were asked which treatment they thought they had received. Other sensations and adverse events related to cupping therapy were investigated.

Results 17 patients received real cupping therapy and 17 received sham cupping. The two groups felt similar sensations. There was a tendency for subjects to feel that real cupping created a stronger sensation than sham cupping (48.9±21.4 vs 33.3±20.3 on a 100mm visual analogue scale). There were only mild to moderate adverse events observed in both groups.

Conclusion We developed a new sham cupping device that seems to provide a credible control for real cupping therapy by producing little or no negative pressure. This conclusion was supported by a pilot study, but more rigorous research is warranted regarding the use of this device.

Footnotes

  • The first two authors contributed equally to this study.

  • Funding J-IK and B-CS input their own money to this study.

  • Competing interests The sham cupping device was patented as ‘KIOM sham cupping device’ (Korea patent number 10-2009-0083013). MSL is employed as researchers at KIOM. J-IK and D-HL were working as researchers during this study.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Wonkwang University Hospital Ethics Committee (WKISIRB-AR reference: 2008-4).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.