What is Hijama or Cupping ?

Hijama/hijama comes from the arabic root word ‘hajam’ refers to the reduction in blood volume or to the vacuum effect used to draw blood from the body. It is drawing of blood from the body for therapeutic purposes, either to maintain health in the case of one who is not sick or to cure a specific illness or ailment.

The vacuum can be achieved by many different methods including

1. Sucking with the mouth directly over a cut or wound (as in the case of poisonous bites) .

2. Using a leech to draw blood.

3. The use of instruments such as animal horns as was done in ancient times.

4. Modern methods of using bamboo, glass or plastic “cups”, either with fire or a pump mechanism.

Types of hijama or cupping :

Hijama is mainly of two types

1. Dry cupping

Dry cupping is a "relaxation therapy" and often practiced as part of relaxation massage techniques.

In this no blood is removed.

It is limited in its therapeutic effectiveness since the blood is drawn to the surface but not released.

2. Wet cupping

Even amongst those who practice cupping, “wet” cupping is regarded the curative modality.

In this fine cuts are given on part of body and cup with suction is applied and blood in drawn from there.

History of hijama or cupping :

The earliest historical evidence of the use of hijama is from the ancient egyptians. One of the oldest egyptian medical textbooks, written in approximately 1550 bc, describes “bleeding” used to ‘remove pathogens from the body’. It is evident that bloodletting was considered a remedy for almost every type of disease as well as an important means of preserving good health and life.

Ibn sina, the famous muslim physician said: ‘hijama is not preferred in the beginning or the end of the month. It is preferred in the middle of the month when the substances (of the constitution or the condition) accumulate and become agitated.

The ancient chinese medical text which is widely regarded as the oldest medical text in existence, the nei jing, or inner classic says that: “if there is stagnation it must be first be resolved through bloodletting before the application of acupuncture or moxibustion.”

Effects of hijama or cupping :

1. Removal of “bad” blood or impurities from the blood .

2. Treatment of sihr or nazr.

3. Diverts and expels toxins and harmful impurities from the vital organs .

4. Removes excess blood .

5. Removes excess heat from the blood and surface of the body .

6. Draws inflammation away from the deeper organs.

7. Assists the body’s own healing abilities.

Uses or benefits of hijama or cupping :

Hijama has the following effects in terms of traditional medical paradigms:


1. Removes impurities from the blood .

2. Diverts and expels toxins and harmful impurities from the vital organs .

Balance of humors:

3. Removes excess blood.

Heat and inflammation:

4. Draws inflammation away from the deeper organs .

5. Drains excess heat and fire from the exterior parts of the body and indirectly from various internal organs.

6. Brings down yang or heat which is rising in the body (that may cause high blood pressure, migraine headaches and even lead to stroke).

7. Removes fire toxins from the body.

Circulation of blood:

8. Invigorates the flow of qi and blood and releases blockages, improves blood circulation.

9. Disperses local areas of qi and blood stasis, as in cases of areas of pain or visible stasis such as evidenced by the presence of spider and/or varicose veins.

Emergency conditions:

10.treats emergency conditions characterised by excess heat, especially where there is a mental component to the symptoms such as mania, delirium, epilepsy etc.

Stimulatory effects:

11.stimulates blood production.

12.assists the body’s own healing abilities

Hijama for black magic and nazr(evil eye) :

While the above effects are attributed to hijama uses and understanding in traditional medical paradigms, there is mounting scientific evidence to support them. Hijama's effects based on this research will be discussed in the next section and then linked back to the effects above for a greater depth to the understanding and application of hijama.

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