What is Hijama ?
Hijama comes from the root word al-hajm, which simply means ‘sucking’. Cupping is the modern term for this ancient form of medical treatment in which a partial vacuum is created in cups that are positioned onto the surface of the body. The vacuum created by either heat or suction draws up skin, subcutaneous tissue and muscle layers a few millimetres into the cups.
The negative pressure that translates into the body’s tissues encourages blood flow, the release of toxins and the removal of waste and has been found to affect the body up to four inches deep through the tissues.
The cups can be left in one place on the skin or moved around as part of massage cupping. The treatment can be utilised to influence the movement of bodily fluids such as lymph fluid, venous drainage and the reduction of stagnant flow.
As the treatment uses negative pressure it lifts up muscles and tissues rather than pressing down on them like in conventional massage, it enables the treatment to massage tissues from the inside out. This has beneficial effects on muscles, fascia and skin as well as influencing the deeper organs.
Hijama or wet cupping is also an ancient medical technique popular amongst Arab cultures.
It utilises the same principles of regular cupping therapy except it allows the release and removal of stagnant blood, toxins, inflammation and swellings through the application of small scratches or pin pricks over the areas where the suction is applied.
This combination of cupping therapy and controlled bloodletting has been utilised for over 3000 years and was a practice the prophet Muhammad(pbuh) promoted and recommended as an inspiration from God. The practice of wet cupping was also an integral part of more recent medical practice as it developed in the Middle East and was used up until the 1800’s.
Although a simplified explanation wet cupping can be likened to a mechanical form of leaching allowing small quantities of blood to be released from swollen and painful areas of the body, to give relief, promote healing and to regain function and balance within the body.
Hijama is good for?
Back Pain, Blood disorders, Detoxification & illness Prevention, Digestive Issues, Urinary Tract Problems, Ears nose and Throat Problems, Foot and ankle Pain, Hand and Arm Pains, Knee pain and problems in the Leg, Sciatica, Migraines, Headaches, Memory & Concentration, Neck and Shoulder Pains, Skin conditions, Stress, Tension, Psychological disorders & Depression, Neck and Shoulder Pains etc
- It is a logical fact that hijama can and has been an effective aid at draining abscesses, boils and infected pustules, as well as sucking out poisons venom from the site of a snake bite or bee sting. This vital life saving or at least pain saving property of hijama was recognised by the simplest minded people in almost every nation that has ever existed on earth including throughout the pre Islamic eras.
- Hijama goes back in medical texts as far as written history can go. From the Ancient Egyptians, Assyrians, Greeks, Arabs, Orientals, & Africans to the Europeans and Native Americans, hijama has always been practiced by mankind. Unlike many medieval practices that came and went, Hijama has stood the test of time and is still thriving throughout the world today. This is for the simple fact that it works.
So why is it, that hijama is able to give pain relief, reduce swellings, regain function and restore health in so many cases that conventional treatment methods cant?
- If we look at some of the most common processes that cause pain and dysfunction in the human body we don’t have to go far to realize that inflammation often has something to do with it.
- Inflammation is a natural process in which your body sends extra blood to an area to help it repair and fight off illness and disease. It allows it a good supply of nutrients and oxygen and encourages it to remove or break down old and damaged tissues, making room to build and repair new cells for recovery.
Many conditions and ailments that we suffer with are related to an over reaction by the body resulting in unwanted inflammation. This includes all conditions that end with the word “itis” such as arthritis, tendonitis, gastritis, meningitis, appendicitis etc. The common factor in all these conditions is that there is too much unwanted blood as a result of inflammation in that area.
This is why anti-inflammatory medication is regularly prescribed by doctors to try and reduce down the amount of this inflammation. Unwanted inflammation results in extra blood causing tissues to dilate and swell often causing pressure which stretches the tissues and nerve fibers which cause pain. If the cause of the original problem does not stop, the inflammation can increase. This pressure and swelling within the tissues can increase to the extent that it itself damages the tissues, preventing efficient movement of blood to remove waste and supply nutrients. This can lead to a buildup of carbon dioxide causing acidity, toxic waste (made up of cell debris and metabolites) all of which perpetuate the problem and the inflammation.
Inflammation can be simplified as a state in which there is too much blood in an area causing pressure and stagnation preventing the regular flow of nutrient and waste exchange, resulting in pain and compromised natural healing abilities.
Although medications are often necessary, they are not always the answer to all our problems. Most medications work globally on our bodies and not just in the desired areas. These medications also rely on the body’s own transport mechanisms to get the medication to the desired site (unless injected) which can often be hindered if the inflammation is severe (eg, a severely swollen ankle does not have the same rate of flow as a normal ankle), not to mention the potentially serious side effects that compound medications can have in the long term.
Hijama (cupping) therapy has the unique ability of drawing out inflammation, stagnant blood, cell debris and toxins from deep within the body to the surface of the skin.
By utilising wet hijama (cupping) therapy this built up pressure can be released through tiny pin pricks or light scratches on the skin. This often gives instantaneous relief and allows fresh blood, nutrients and oxygen to penetrate the area breaking the cycle of pain and discomfort.
Traditionally it has been understood that wet cupping also allows a process of purifying the blood and removing unwanted materials from the system. Many a times there are unwanted or high levels of harmful elements in the blood such as cholesterol, uric acid, calcium deposits, rheumatoid factors and chemical messengers that modulate inflammation. By removing these elements you can reduce the problems that they cause and reduce pain, discomfort and inevitably disease.
For this reason wet cupping therapy has been used throughout history to treat a wide range of conditions and even as a preventative medicine. The feeling of well being, looseness in the body and higher levels of energy are common reports of patients undergoing this form of treatment.
Other theories that explaining the mechanism in which hijama works include the pain gait theory, the secondary site of inflammation theory, the traditional humours concept and the various meridian and energy channel philosophies.
Hijama can also have positive effects on areas that are not inflamed but are “stagnant” due to inactivity or poor blood flow. This can be the case in chronically tense musculature where blood flow becomes reduced and lactic acid builds up causing pain and tension. The negative pressure can help dilate the tissues encouraging blood flow and flushing the area of stagnant fluids, allowing the nourishment of fresh blood.
Similar benefits can be obtained in areas where poor blood return can cause congestion such as cases of venous insufficiency or congestion both clinically and sub clinically. This can often be the case in areas of anatomical disadvantage such as in the sinuses of the head and face, as well as the venous drainage of the spinal cord in which the lack of a valve system can make this more likely.
Lymph drainage and flow can also physically be influenced by hijama creating an opportunity to help the immunological function of the bodily portions as well as aid in dysfunctional states such as lymphedema and the management of similar diseases.
The benefits and applications of hijama are endless and there is much that we do not and may not ever be able to comprehend about the process. The important factor to note is that hijama is effective at helping people and its abandonment in the west is an injustice to the people chronically suffering with disease and illness due to a health care system restricted to long term medication and pain management.
Although there is a shortfall in scientific research on this subject more and more research is being conducted on hijama and its various applications with a large majority of the studies demonstrating substantial beneficial effects. The information we have provided is based on the available scientific literature, clinical experience, traditional medical texts, historical and religious accounts as well as theoretical reasoning.