Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine.


Hijama therapy is the Arabic term for wet cupping, where blood is drawn by vacuum from a small skin incision for therapeutic purposes. Even though Hijama is a very simple procedure, it has dramatic effects. Our health and well-being are tied up with the immune system and are totally dependent on the flow of blood and Qi (energy) and body fluids like hormones and lymphatic fluid. Traditional medicine tells us that all pain is due to stagnation of these symptoms. The cups used in Hijama have a wonderful pulling power and this is a dramatic technique in reducing pain and enhancing the feeling of well-being.

Cupping therapy is an ancient form of alternative medicine in which a therapist puts special cups on your skin for a few minutes to create suction. People get it for many purposes, including to help with pain, inflammation, blood flow, relaxation and well-being, and as a type of deep-tissue massage. Cupping therapy might be trendy now, as youhave seen the Olympic athletes are partaking on cupping, but it’s not new. It dates back to ancient Egyptian, Chinese, and Middle Eastern cultures.

As from religious stance point, more than 1400 years ago it was very well known in Muslim countries and strongly recommended and emphasized from the tradition of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), which forms an integral part of Islamic Prophetic Medicine. The hijama (wet cupping) is still widely practiced in Muslims countries. I mentioned below few of the traditions of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) regarding cupping.

“Indeed in hijama (cupping) there is a cure”. – Saheeh Muslim “Indeed, the best of remedies you have is hijama (cupping)”. –Saheeh Al Bukhari The importance of hijama in the divine guidance can further be stressed by the following words which were related to the Prophet (pbuh) on the night of Israa (ascension to the heaven) by angles: “O Mohammed, order your ummah (people) with hijama (cupping)”–Sunan Tirmidhi.

The Prophet Muhammad is reported to have had hijama performed on his head for migraine [Bukhari], on his foot after a sprain [Ibn Majah], on his neck [Abu Dawud], on his hip for hip pain [Abu Dawud] and between his shoulders for detoxification [Ahmed].

“The best medicine with which you treat yourselves is cupping, or it is one of the best of your medicines.”Or“The treatment you can use is cupping.” [Bukhari: 5371]

Prophet (pbuh) said, “If there was something excellent to be used as a remedy then it is cupping (hijama).” [Sunan Abu Dawud, Sunan Ibn Majah]

First the therapist massages the area where the cups will be placed and uses a vacuum pump to suction the skin, as the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum. This causes your skin to rise and redden as your blood vessels expand. The cup is generally left in place for up to 3-5 minutes. Sometimes therapists use silicone cups, which they can move from place to place on your skin for a massage-like effect. Wet cupping creates a mild suction by leaving a cup in place for about 3-5 minutes. The therapist then removes the cup and uses a small scalpel to make light, tiny cuts like paper cuts on your skin. Next, he or she does a second suction to draw out a small quantity of blood.

Aside from the benefits of hijama (cupping) one may ask about the side effects, because it does look very painful in the picture. Hijama does not have any major side effects as long as performed properly. Cupping is very safe, as long as you go to a trained health professional. But you could have these side effects in the area where the cups touch your skin as mild discomfort, burns, skin infection and discoloration. The discoloration that occurs in the region is by pressurized cup that’s placed on the skin. It is important to note this is not a bruise! Bruises hurt and these discolorations carry no pain. These marks are cleansed by the body’s lymph system so the duration is dependent on the efficiency of the lymph system. Typically a fit person who hydrates well, will clear up in 5-7 days. When a person is under-hydrated or is not at optimal lymph flushing the discoloration could last 10-14 days.