Cupping-loving Ottawa health duo discuss benefits of the ancient practice

"Cupping" uses suction to create welts on the skin that look a little like large hickeys. Some question the benefits of the ancient practice, but two Ottawans swear by it (along with Olympic swim star Michael Phelps).

Ever wondered what the purple circular bruises on U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps are?

This year's Rio Olympics has people talking about a traditional Chinese therapy almost as old as the games itself.

"Cupping" involves using suction to create welts on the skin that look a little like large hickeys.

American swimmer Michael Phelps has sworn by the practice, and his dappled skin has been an unmissable sight in the Rio swimming pools.

But although the treatment has been used in China since at least the third century, many modern experts question whether it's any better than a placebo. Some even think it could be harmful.

Cupping advocates, however — including Ottawa's Emilie and Martin Perras, who work at Oaktree Chiropractic and Acupuncture — say it helps the body regenerate and even helps fight the common cold.

"I love cupping. Definitely when they go on it feels like a tightening, but it relaxes fairly quickly after and it really puts you into this state of relaxation," Emilie Perras, a chiropractor, told CBC Radio's Ottawa Morning earlier this week.

Her husband, Martin, an acupuncturist, does the cupping for her when she's feeling pain or a sickness coming on.

"The minute I feel something I tell him to cup me and it usually goes away," she said.