Cupping Therapy: Alternative Medicine for Pain, Immunity & Digestion

Cupping Therapy: Alternative Medicine for Pain, Immunity & Digestion


Hi, Dr. Josh Axe here, doctor of natural medicine
and founder of draxe.com. In this video, I’ll be talking about cupping therapy, an ancient
traditional Chinese medicine practice that has great benefits for helping you get rid
of pain, improving circulation, overcoming bronchitis and a number of other health conditions
I’ll be covering today. Now, cupping therapy got really popular several
years ago when Olympic athletes including Michael Phelps and other Olympic swimmers
started doing this to really support recovery. Now, they noticed and you’ll notice that you’ll
get these sort of black and blue marks on different areas of the body and that’s from
what cupping therapy does. It brings fresh blood and platelets and growth factors actually
to an area improving circulation. And so, this is one of the reasons why it can be healing
in different ways. It really moves blood and growth factors from one area to another supporting
that area in healing. So let’s talk about what cupping is specifically.
Cupping uses suction cups. Now today, oftentimes people will use a plastic cup but traditionally,
glass was always used and typically, what would be done is they would take a lighter
of some sort or flame and just put it in the glass for a second, pull it off and then put
it right down on the skin. What that would do is it created a sucking action to where
the skin was brought up in the area and then blood flow started going to the area. 
Now think about this, if you would ever, if you’ve ever done this, sprained an ankle,
what will tend to happen is you’ll notice that there will be swelling and oftentimes
there is bruising, right? So blood flow goes to an area. Cupping essentially, there’s none
of that inflammation that happens in a sprained ankle but it is moving blood from one area
to another and we know blood is full of plasma, it’s full of growth factors that actually
help the area of the body heal.  So again, cupping therapy is essential it’s
improving circulation to an area and improving blood, bringing blood to an area to support
it in the healing. Typically done with glass cup, sometimes today, a plastic like material
and it really focuses on the surface of the skin, pulling all that blood flow to a surface.
And this can be done dry or wet and again, a very common practice in traditional Chinese
medicine and done by acupuncturists today. So let’s dive right in and talk about the
many benefits of cupping. A few of them which may surprise you. Number one, it helps reduce
pain. Again, it does this by, I’ll give example for myself personally, the first time I ever
went to an acupuncturist, one of the reasons I went for was because I had this muscle spasm
in the back of my shoulder. I was having some shoulder pain and aching with my teres minor
muscle and so you may have had this or maybe you lacked range of motion, I’d get my arm
kind of here and it would catch a little bit because of a hyperextension injury I had and
my shoulder.  And I’ve done other therapies and nothing
was seeming to help. I got cupping done and immediately, I was able to move the area.
What happens in cupping is it really, imagine you’ve got a tight intense muscle, it creates
this sort of sucking action on that muscle to where it’s kind of like a deep tissue massage
and they did it for about 30 minutes. And finally when you pull it off it just releases
and that muscle completely relaxes, at the same time, pulling blood to the area which
actually supports that muscle, if there’s an injured tissue in the area, supports it
in healing. So number one benefit of cupping, it can help reduce pain and muscle spasm in
most areas of muscles and tendons.  Number two, it really promotes relaxation.
I talked about that earlier. Now this is commonly used both for athletes as well as in traditional
Chinese medicine in the trap area. If you ever get pain and tension in your shoulder
areas and your traps and upper back area, this is a great therapy to use because again,
it’s kind of like a deep tissue massage to where it really sort of pulls in that muscle
and when it lets go, that muscle completely relaxes. So again, it’s great for promoting
relaxation especially of shoulder tension. Number three, it really boosts skin health.
Again, oftentimes what can happen is we can lack circulation area or maybe you have an
area of your body that, let’s say again, a sprained ankle or a sprained, let’s use a
sprained shoulder for example. Your body went through a healing process of having inflammation.
It brought blood flow there and it did it one time, but maybe that area of the body
was only healed 70%, not 100% so you’re left with kind of chronic issues. What can happen
in cupping is it’s essentially like restarting the healing process for a second time bringing
new blood into an area, maybe allowing that part of the body to go from 70% healed maybe
up to 80 or 90 and beyond by improving that circulation and blood flow through an area. 
So again, in terms of skin health, if you have an area of your skin that’s not getting
enough blood flow or didn’t get enough, cupping can bring blood to the area, really allowing
that area to regenerate and heal through the power of plasma and platelets. In fact, you
may have heard of a therapy called PRP, platelet rich plasma. Six percent of your blood is
really high in healing and growth factors and so, anyways, kind of a similar thing here,
we’re getting that blood to the area to support healing.
Now another really common practice with cupping is using it to support respiratory issues
and colds. So what practitioners of Chinese medicine will do or other people that practice
cupping is they’ll go to the upper back and middle back area right where your lungs are
and they’ll do cupping in that area. What that does is it really helps improve circulation
of the lungs and really moving stagnation.  What can happen sometimes when we have bronchitis
or any type of respiratory issue or cold is we can get stagnation which means things aren’t
moving. You may have mucus or phlegm just sitting there in the lungs. Well, cupping
helps break that up and really helps increase that flow and that circulation in your lungs
helping you recover from a cold and flu more quickly and helping break up some of that
mucus and phlegm that can be sitting there in your lungs.
And number five, it can relieve digestive trouble. Again, one of the issues a lot of
people have today is stagnation. Stagnation means something is sitting there and it’s
not moving properly. Your body should always be moving. You should be having a strong blood
flow and digestive motility. Your liver should be releasing bile and cleansing and detoxing.
If your body is stagnant, your body is not able to fully heal. So again, using cupping
therapy in different areas to really support the stomach, the small intestine, the colon
in moving can actually really help the body in healing, that’s another big benefit of
cupping. And so, here’s a few things to know about
different types of cupping. Number one, you can do dry cupping or fire cupping. Now this
is the cupping that I’ve personally used most often with actually my personal acupuncturist
and with the patients that I’ve referred to acupuncturists over the years. There’s also
moving cupping. Now dry cupping, they’ll typically put the cup in one area and leave it there. 
Now in moving cupping, this acts even more like a massage and this can be very good for
muscular tension. They’ll take the cup, put it on the area, not just leave it in one area.
They’ll actually continually move it around, actually allowing a larger area to receive
those benefits and actually, again, this is very, very good especially for people with
muscle spasm and tight tendons. Wet cupping and bleeding cupping, this is
the cupping that was used in a lot of ancient Chinese medicine especially when somebody
had a skin condition. Again, if somebody has a stagnant skin condition, even things like
eczema and psoriasis, they can use this in certain cases as well, this bleeding cupping.
And bleeding cupping was again often used. If there is a lot of edema or swelling in
an area, sometimes it would pierce the area with a little blood and that would allow even
more flow of that blood and really helping get rid of swelling out of an area if there’s
a lot of swelling or chronic swelling.  Now cupping versus acupuncture. Again, both
are part of Chinese medicine. Both can promote optimal chi. And chi essentially means in
Chinese medicine, it’s essential your body’s energy. You know, if you see somebody who’s
kind of worn out and tired all the time, they say that person is low chi versus if somebody
is really bright eyed, you know those people, they’re just sort of glowing, they’re full
of energy, it’s overflowing, they would say in Chinese medicine that person has a lot
of chi. It’s just a lot of energy. Both draw energy and blood flow from different areas
of the body. Both dispel stagnation really improving circulation in the body to help
fight disease. Both promote relaxation, boost energy, relieves tension. 
Acupuncture uses needles to really improve circulation and movement in the body, whereas
cupping is doing it with the cups. Acupuncture is dry and acupuncture penetrates the skin
where cupping does not. Now here’s some precautions. Avoid cupping if you have skin infections
in an area and if you have an infection you don’t want to move that. You don’t want to
get that throughout the body and move it. So you wouldn’t want to use cupping if you
have an infection in that area.  Not recommended for pregnant women, just being
overly cautious there. And also cupping is considered a safe practice but find a well-trained
licensed practitioner. It’s typically going to be an acupuncturist or sometimes it’s going
to be a certified, whether it’s an athletic trainer or somebody who does this and who
has been properly trained. So here are the big benefits of cupping therapy
and where you may consider using it. Number one, if you have chronic pain in an area especially
muscular or tendon tension. Promotes relaxation, boosts skin health. Can improve respiratory
issues especially if you have a lot of stagnation in the lungs and release digestive trouble.
This is a practice that’s literally been done for thousands of years, has great benefits
by harnessing your body’s own blood to improve healing and circulation in an area.
If you’ve enjoyed this live training video on cupping, make sure to subscribe here to
the YouTube channel. I’ve got a lot of great videos coming up more on Chinese medicine,
herbal remedies, essential oils, and a whole lot more. Also, if you want to learn more
about cupping, you can do a Google search online for Dr. Axe cupping. I’ve got a lot
more information out there on traditional Chinese medicine and herbs. Guys, hey, thanks
for watching. Hi, Dr. Axe here. I want to say thanks so
much for checking out this YouTube video and also don’t forget to subscribe if you want
to get more great content on things like herbs, essential oils, natural remedies, and how
to use food as medicine. Also, check out more of our content on my YouTube channel. Thanks
for watching.

91 Comments

  • Salty Chick says:

    Can it help with varicose veins in the legs? Reduce appearance?

  • Osama AlAmoudi says:

    The name in arabic is Hijama , it is very traditional method

  • Wilmer E says:

    We Massage Therapist properly trained can also provide this cupping treatment as well Dr Axe and I agree bring about great benefits

  • zuhra khan zuhra khan says:

    This is awesome method of treatment ..hijama give miracle effects in all diseases …as expected this is great informative video… proud of you dr.axe

  • zuhra khan zuhra khan says:

    I have some information for this therapy .. it's must have to do in some specific moon dates..like 17,19,21… awesome date's of hijama …

  • Dede Vaughn says:

    I'm wonder if this would help constant spasms in traps caused by fairly severe kyphosis in upper back and neck caused by Ankylosing Spondylitis?

  • Re Vera says:

    We Malaysian (especially Malays) practise "cupping" as a common medical treatment. At least twice in a year.. Also as a religious belief. In Malay, its call "Bekam".

  • Xing Xiao says:

    The cupping therapy is so commonly conducted in China, especially during summer. Quite some families have a set of cups at home.

  • Shosho Soso says:

    Tank you dr. Axe , It is one of muslims traditional medicine and they let the blood go out of the body by scratching the surface of the skin with sharp blades , they call it hijama and The Prophet (ο·Ί) said: The best medical treatment you apply is cupping. and I invite you dr. Axe to search about the holly water ( zamzam) in makkah city it is a miracle and cure alot of diseases . thanks again for all your great videos πŸ™‚

  • Evolution says:

    cupping is also done by experienced massage therapist.

  • sameer inam says:

    this is hijama aur Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu alaihis Salam invented Arab this not chinies

  • Jade Rose says:

    Thankyou good information. Looking forward to more of your interesting videos.

  • Aziza K says:

    Hello. I hope you can help me. What is the age limit? My nephew just turned 1 years old and he has been in hospital all his life with respiratory problems. He has fought pneumonia and every cold/flue is a battle. He can't excrete mucus and is on a suction machine. Would cupping benefit him and is it safe for him?

  • Thanos And No Bill says:

    How strange is that Americans are literally "rediscovering the wheel"? Many of this therapies or foods or recipes suggested by Dr Axe in many of his videos are very common in my country Greece (there are texts about cupping from the era of Ancient Greece) and from my experience also in many other countries who i visited and have friends there like Italy, Spain, Turkey or even Japan.
    It seems that America lost its way in terms of quality of life (like we lost it in economic way) and wellness but, i am glad that people like Dr. Axe in last years help people rediscover all this "things" through the magic of internet!

  • no name says:

    As used by my prophet(mohammed) of islam,i believe it is a very powerful therapy to do and much better than convential fake medicine( I am a medical student)!
    But the issue is that it carries the risk of transmission of hepatatis viruses!so be aware

  • trinidadhrb1 says:

    Licensed Naturopathic Doctors are trained to perform these and other amazing therapies to promote natural healing for the body

  • sabrinacoolest says:

    Hijama ! 😍

  • Marilyn Driscoll says:

    Dear Dr. Axe, I grew up in the "ancient ways" of healing. I grew up in one of the little scattered island in the Philippines, it was a paradise as I can remember it. Some of my family believed in conventional dr. And some natural and some via witch doctor. In all of ways I was taken as a child. As a child I dicern what was not right and what made sense and What did not make sense to me… Cupping is one of the witch craft practice I ever have seen and was largely believe only in that practice. How that got out to inflict other with the same believe is scary. I am 53, born and raised in The Philippines, moved to US at 23, but my whole child was living in The paradise of no power, everything by natural fire, fresh air, fresh produce and our own catch fish. The bible says, the if we adopt such practice, we adopt the curse that comes with that practice. To me that made sense. I would again touch that. GOD BLESS YOU in ALL that you do.

  • jannatul firdous says:

    it is very old treatment in Muslims why because prophet mohammed peace be upon him told to do hijama I mean wet cupping. it very beneficial to every human being in any diseases.

  • UmmRuqaiyyah Khan says:

    Hope u take time to read dr axe. In shaa Allaah.

  • Ed P says:

    Hey Doc have you ever made a video on healing shingles??

  • David Carson says:

    I had it done with acupuncture when I had an issue with my neck. It works well.

  • Jane Doe says:

    This is common in the Middle East however I was always thinking it was a joke until your video

  • Ahmad Ibrahim says:

    His copying the idea from muslims that's their idea not Chinese do research

  • Kathleen Hudson says:

    Haven't heard of cupping before. Useful information. Thanks for sharing.

  • Yo Charlie says:

    Is having URTICARIA(HIVES) a disease? Any…any natural cureπŸ˜’πŸ™‡β€β™€οΈ

  • eeshaaus2123d says:

    This is a part of phophetic medicine, if I'm not wrong.

  • Dehlia says:

    My husband just started doing this during his acupuncture therapies. Definitely the weirdest thing we've done to date lol, in attempts to heal his pancreas.

  • marianaalexa says:

    Coming from former USSR , we do cupping at home with glass and fire. Using some Vaseline to moisturize skin and help them adhere better. In families where people grow up using them, knowledge gets passed down from generation to generation. My husbands parents used and he taught me. It's a life saver with 4 kids.
    I do know that it is not advisable to use them around kidney area.

  • 078june says:

    Cupping is a therapy from ancient China, widely and commonly among chinese. Even Malaysian Chinese are using it a lot to extract coldness and wetness from inner body.

  • Christine D'Angelo says:

    Dr. Axe please be careful you are recommending a lot of occultic practices lately. All occult is something hidden and that would be satan. He disguises himself behind things to get us to worship him some how, Cupping is a form of acupcture and is no doubt occult. As a Christian I don't practice yoga or acupuncture because they both come from false religions. IAcupucture frm Taoism Chinese mythoism and yoga hinduism. We can on;y worship one God. What ever happened to doing what the Lord told us to do in Mark 16? Many churches and ministries arent following what the Lord told us to sadly πŸ™ I was one of them until I found out the truth. Bless you <3

  • Rabia Taliep says:

    This actually came from the Muslims, the Prophet S.A.W used this method. All the natural healing method's that modern medicine is discovering today was already used by Muslims more than 1400 years ago. The Quran mentions numerous of these natural medicines…

  • just nana says:

    I'm watching this while i'm in "bekam" class on my nursing department

  • Katie kay says:

    Is it safe to do cupping if one is taking statens or blood thinners

  • no one says:

    Islamic medicine too

  • Scott Gabelman says:

    Where would you place the cups to improve digestion? Thank you Doctor Axe.

  • Elliott Reed says:

    Cupping is awesome! If anyone is in Vegas and wants to try cupping check out IMR Massage πŸ™‚

  • m.ira.h _ says:

    An awesome video..the wet blood cupping is originated from our prophet moses and muhammad in ancient times. not only cure skin diseases but most other chronic disease too and can prevent cancer..

  • Sarah Mughal says:

    Doctor I have stuburn belly fat, no matter how much I diet, how much I workout. I do have PCOS aswell. Would cupping on my belly help?

  • Sarah Mughal says:

    Prophet Muhammad SAW recommend this. MashAllah

  • Victor Da Silva says:

    My girlfriend went from a cupping to d cupping and I’m really happy

  • Afsah Farooq says:

    Hijama cupping was the practice of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon Him) thousands of years ago

  • PK in TN says:

    As a Massage Therapist, I use it everyday on my clients to relieve pain and soreness before I do compression massage. Helps reduce my workload as eases their pain, it's a win win for both of us. I also use it on myself when I am in pain.

  • ali zahedi says:

    thanks dr

  • Lea Lopez says:

    Hi Dr. Axe love your channel; I have some spider veins on my legs it is ok to do cupping on them or it will make it worse?

  • Clara Sarmiento says:

    Hi dr. could you recommend a particular brand to easily do it at home?

  • Mr. Brosef says:

    DO NOT do wet cupping. 100% pseudo-science. High risk of infection, no medical benefit, it can damage your skin. Use common sense people. A cup on your skin WILL NOT affect your lungs.

  • humair Noushad says:

    I want to learn this therapy pls suggest me..

  • Truther Asitis says:

    THIS IS ISLAMIC THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD PBUH RECOMMENDS REGULAR WET CUPPING TO KEEP DISEASES AWAY AND PURIFY THE BLOOD AND STRENGTHEN IMMUNE SYSTEM. . THIS CAN CURE MIGRAINES IRREGULAR MENSTRUATION ARTHRITIS AS TO ASTHMA ETC MANY MORE.

  • Eric Liu says:

    Just some warnings if you want to do it at home or by some practitioners you don't know.
    (1) Greater suction DOES NOT mean greater good. The traditional way of Chinese cupping uses fire instead of vacuum suction. This is very important, because fire will heat up the air a little bit and only exhaust the oxygen in the cup, which creates a moderate suction. However the vacuum suction generate too much suction which will damage the blood vessels and skin too deeply.
    (2) Incorrect positions. Spine is a FORBIDDEN area for cupping and acupuncture. The place where you do the cupping is supposed to be where the Meridian goes through. The meridian on the back is along both sides of the spine, but NOT on the spine.
    (3) Time and Color monitoring.The traditional Chinese therapist will keep an eye on the time and color change. To treat different diseases or to reach different purposes, you need to control the time and to monitor the color change. The deeper the redness DOSE NOT mean the better result in some cases.
    (4) Qualification. Cupping and acupuncture are not something like you see and you do. You need to learn Chinese medicine of Meridian. I really doubt about the qualification of some practitioners in the west. I don't think they understand the traditional Chinese medicine well enough to practice the therapy.

    You need a qualified therapist to do all of this or you may do more damages then goods. Cupping is supposed to be done by specialist in traditional Chinese medicine. If you do it at home, keep it in mind that you need to use lighter suction and shorter time.

  • Mull ma says:

    I suffered for fibromyalgia , trapezius myalgia & CFS for years and tried the Chinese method and had minor relief but did it The Muslim way that Gabriel taught them in the Hadith and had I would say 75% relief and surprisingly my ldl cholesterol dropped to

  • Abdullah Alhakami says:

    cupping therapy really healed my insomnia and intermittent sleeping however it was not the reason to do it and it stopped the numbness in my arms and hands when waking up but it didn't heal my dermatitis which was the main reason to do it, by the way dry cupping doesn't work and my advice is to go to expert and gentle therapist because you don't want the blade scars to stay forevever on your skin

  • Namaste Healthy says:

    I had the same issue with my shoulder and I did myofascial decompression with cups and it worked after one treatment. Here is my video on it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9exppArfJhA&t=5s

  • Drill Mcenzyme says:

    This guy is not a doctor, google it.

  • welesh mahary says:

    Chant believe You ate a Dr and saying this garbage. The body is designed to do its work naturally. When the blood or plasma is pulled from one place , do you know there will be disturbed the body and all organs will try to compensate and hens fight flights.

  • Rae Frye says:

    you might also want to add that licensed or certified massage therapist can also provide cupping treatments.

  • Pink Moon Healing & Cupping Massage, Austin, TX says:

    Thanks! For anyone interested, I've some self cupping tutorials on my channel. πŸ™‚

  • bernarda spee-villar says:

    Very very nice all that you can learn here by watching.

  • Paris Nolen says:

    Does this help with lymphatic drainage?

  • Ahmed Pinan says:

    Hello mr it was invented by muslim people ( prophet Mohamed swa)over 1400 years ago not by chainiz people. Its called hizama. Resarch before you say something. Tnx.

  • Nasreen Perveen says:

    What degree to get to become a cupping theripist

  • S says:

    cn v do cupping therapy fo asthma n pcod one at a time??..i mean to say one session fo both d problems?

  • Paul Smith says:

    You do know that he's talking absolute nonsense ….. right?

  • N Valdez says:

    My shoulder has been in agony for 4 years when I got this done out of desperation. WOW! It even drew water from my shoulder (inflammation) and it did feel hot, I was forced to use ice, but the difference was WOW! Did it cure it? No. But it helps me live with it. <3 No scar either!

  • Muneer Khan says:

    our holy prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him ) used to do that method and prefer to do on monday,tuesday and thursday as according to islamic calendar and dates are 17,19,and 21 in islamic calender.good luck and peace for all

  • Fionnait Sradag says:

    A very useful ancient Chinese healing tool! TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) is great.

  • mishel MK says:

    My grandma did it, my Mom did it, my sister does and I am doing for my kids. As soon as I feel I am going down with cold, I am begging for cupping since I was a child. Nothing heals me like the cupping.

  • S. Lewis says:

    I believe in these practices. They really do work. Have a cupping set. Haven't tried it, yet. Excited to use it. πŸ‘ Great info. Thanks, Dr. Axe

  • sufyan bharde says:

    Nice info dr appreciate it really would request a more detailed video so people become aware of these treatment once again thank you for the video

  • *We The People* says:

    How safe is this for thigh pain after a total hip replacement?

  • Salahudeen Bin Sulaimaan says:

    "Or other people who practice cupping" saying Muslims won't get the video taken down lol just say it

  • im suicidal says:

    I'll try this today insha'Allah I've upperback injury since a month

  • Felix Cardona says:

    Great information about the cupping therapy. I am starting my therapy as I have undergone 15 surgeries with in an 8 year time frame and now I live with chronic pains and do not wish to use the narcotic prescriptions that the doctors wants me on. I believe that this could help as I also have issues walking because I lost strength on my hands and legs. This is not including a rare condition they found on me called O.P.L.L. Great informative videos. Just subscribed and am looking forward to learn more.

  • 2303mitt says:

    Is it going to treat hair loss?

  • sabiakass says:

    cupping therapy came from the Egyptians its not about any religion , yes prophet mohamed had cupping done to him as he was in pain it relieved it , he was given poison ,wet blood cupping therapy extracted the blood and drained out the blood that was poisonous , i have tried it its brilliant and you can have this therapy for al sorts of issues , oh yes it does help , and its not just about the prophet 1450 years ago this technique has been there for 5000 years ago , like how turmeric helps the body and makes wonders , this video is great , thumbs up doc πŸ™‚

  • Zaid Allaham says:

    masha allah.

  • Chen Wiing says:

    Cupping os good for acen ???

  • Ri Ray says:

    I tried fire cupping for the first time and it was amazing it made a huge difference after just 1 session! I would definitely do it again. I had mine done by an experienced massage therapist

  • The Alternative Fish says:

    Shout out to the Athletic Trainers!

  • Feona Lee Jones says:

    I had this done today and it was the weirdest sensation I've ever felt!!!! But the knots in my back and shoulders are all gone!

  • lizzieonthelabel says:

    I had cupping performed on me and it left many circular bruises on my back. It is not painful at all. How long does it normally take for the bruising to go away?

  • juntjoo nunya says:

    I've got a nice set. Cheap off Amazon. I like em but I've no one to put them on so it's kind of a pain to do it myself

  • Chris Jay says:

    Great video

  • mobileacula says:

    Dr. Axe, this is great information about cupping. Thanks!

  • Sadiya Vlogs says:

    Prophet Muhammad PBUH used to do this …..!

  • Feona Lee Jones says:

    I tried it and it felt better than getting a massage.

  • Jill Dowling says:

    I have lupus and was told that this would help cure it by the Dr. I see. I myself know there is no cure for lupus so I'm a little sceptical. I'm sure it will help with the pain and swelling but how is it going to cure my lupus?

  • Carol the Crazy Camper says:

    The moving cupping helps breakup fascia adhesion after surgery…like knee replacement

  • Pana Anton says:

    Very important to stay warm and not in cold winds etc for a day or so after heat cupping

  • Carolyn Pryce says:

    Thank you doc ,great information

  • Demenyi Robert says:

    can this therapy heal joint problems?

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