Cupping therapy (Hijama)

What is Hijama?
Hijama therapy is distinctive from the well-known practice of ‘cupping’ as it is governed by specific times when it should be done as well as specific points on the body that enhances health, detoxifies the body and builds up immunity. Hijama is an Arabic word meaning ‘sucking or vacuum’. Originally Hijama was known as ‘cupping’ because of the use of cups as therapeutic tools. The horn or cup was heated to create a negative pressure and this was mostly used to draw out blood and pus, but later, it was found to be effective in treating other diseases and over time developed into a therapeutic method.

Benefits of Hijama Therapy: (see also here)
The strengthening and stimulating effects of Hijama therapy make it successful in treating the following conditions: cellulite, weight loss, fatigue, period pain, constipation and diarrhea, headaches, back pain, arthritis, asthma, anemia, depression and emotional problems, atrophy, sciatica, common cold and flu, skin problems, sports / injuries and much more.

Children & Cupping (Hijama) therapy

Hijama and Cancer:
Although there is no (documented) evidence that hijama cures cancer, it is known to dramatically improve the condition of the patient. Some practitioners use it to rebalance energy in the body that has been blocked by certain tumors. Hijama is effective for undoing the damage done to patients by conventional therapies of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. During chemotherapy the immune system is depleted and Hijama helps repair the immune system and strengthens it to withstand further attack.

Immunity, detox, muscles spasms:
Traditional medicine tells us that all pain is due to stagnation of blood and Qi. The cups used in Hijama create a wonderful pulling power that reduces pain and enhances the mobilization of the immune system, stagnated blood and Qi. Hijama therapy is effective in treating some clinical manifestations of external pathogens that are fighting at the level of the skin. Symptoms like high fever, a cough with thin yellow phlegm, wheezing and thirst are helped with Hijama. It also relieves the symptoms associated with stagnation of body systems and fluids that can be the result of lack of movement, injury, stress, lack of blood, Qi or the invasion of cold into the body and joints.

Hijama can be applied to specific dysfunctional points of the body like what is done in acupuncture. After a short time the patient will feel warmth and pain will be reduced. Hijama treatment releases toxins with minimal additional stress to internal organs and it directly de-acidifies tissues, enhances blood circulation, stimulates the immune system and reduces stress as it releases chemicals in the brain that reduce stress and depression. It also facilitates a sufficient flow of nutrition to the affected tissues and stimulates the flow of blood and lymph and so improves blood and lymph flow, and activates the function of the organs.

Performing Hijama on the corresponding organ points is used to treat disorders such as liver and kidney problems, respiratory diseases, digestive disorders and some gynecological disorders. It can also be used to treat muscle spasms especially in the back. It is useful in treating painful joints, stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea. Since Hijama stimulates the flow of blood it helps to treat blood stagnation, poor circulation, and asthmatic conditions.

Dr. Katase from Osaka University maintained that Hijama influences the composition of blood as it increases red and white blood cells and changes acid blood into alkaline or neutral blood thereby leading to the purification of blood. It also purifies the body of accumulated irritants that cause inflammation. Recent studies indicate that having Hijama done at specific points on the back increases immunity by increasing the white blood cell count. In addition to enhancing the body’s defenses, Hijama regulates blood circulation throughout the entire body. The pull of low pressure Hijama therapy activates the blood vessels within the muscles. The expansion of the blood vessels in the muscles facilitates the flow of blood and has a remarkable effect on stiff shoulder.

Pain relief, intestinal disorders:
Hijama relieves pain, especially that which is related to headache, menstrual cramps, dental pain, tennis elbow, muscle pain, low back pain and sciatica. Many rheumatic disorders simply disappear after just a few sessions. By supplying more oxygen, hormones and essential enzymes to local tissues and joints, Hijama keeps local tissues warm, thus increasing elasticity and flexibility in muscles and joints. It relieves muscle spasms and stiffness in muscular tissue and is effective for chronic joint rheumatism as it facilitates the flow of blood to the joints. It also removes congested blood and solves problems that can not be solved with acupuncture. It has been found that Hijama is an effective treatment for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Wet version of the Cupping therapy (Hijama) in arabic.

Hijama is also recommended for the treatment of lung diseases, especially chronic cough, pleurisy, bronchial congestion and asthma. Dry Hijama stimulates the insides of the stomach and spleen, facilitating their movement and secretion of digestive fluids and thus, strengthens the power of digestion, the absorption of nourishment and the power of secretion. It relieves chronic gastroenteritis and constipation.

Beauty, hair loss, weight loss, anxiety Hijama is beneficial in beauty therapy as it promotes the production of hormones, encourages blood flow and body fluid movement in the bowels and internal organs. In this way toxins are removed and this is important because toxins speed up the aging process and cause other negative conditions. Hijama therapy is also known to stimulate hair growth through direct physical stimuli on hair roots and the expansion of blood vessels of the skin through the pull of low pressure. Hijama therapy is like massage and is effective against anxiety and worry. Hence, insomnia is treated with Hijama in conjunction with massage.

A 19th century antique cupping set used in Europe.

Hijama therapy is known to treat stones, abscesses and urine retention. Cups can be applied to the lumber region to treat urine retention. The skin disorders that are well-known to be treated by Hijama are: boils, abscess, herpes, acne, cellulite and urticaria. Hijama also improves skin respiration and promotes gaseous exchange within cells. It promotes metabolism within skin tissues and accelerates the functions of both sweat and sebaceous glands leading to the secretion of salts, sebaceous material and the excretion of sweat.

How It Is Done For thousands of years?
Hijama practitioners have distinguished two forms of Hijama; Dry and Wet. In Dry Hijama no blood is removed from the body. A cup is simply drained of air and applied to the skin causing the skin to swell. In Wet Hijama the process begins the same as for Dry Hijama and is followed by several light scratches on the surface of the skin so as to collect blood. Hijama can be applied to specific points of the body like what is done in acupuncture or to affected areas.

Hijama should not be performed on open wounds or around skin ulcers as well as on irritated skin or over allergic skin or where any skin lesions are present. It should be avoided in elderly people with thin, delicate skin. It is best not to perform Hijama on great vessels, or on patients with serious heart disease. It should never be done directly on the main varicose veins.

Medical engravings "Kom Ombo" temple - Aswan, Egypt

Hijama In The Modern World These days, people are looking to alternative therapies to deal with health problems. Public awareness and education have also changed which means that Hijama, is seen as a respectable alternative therapy. The education of the alternative therapist has taken on a new meaning in the modern world as many alternative therapy organizations have established self-regulatory bodies, ensuring high educational standards and enjoying better understanding and recognition of the health system and general public. It is clear that if Hijama therapy is taught and used properly on its own or along with various other therapies, it can have a positive influence and speed up the body’s natural healing process.

Hijama Throughout History:
Both ancient Egyptian papyri as well as in Hippocratic writings contain studies about Hijama. Hijama spread to the Greeks and Romans from Egypt and continued to be popular throughout the Middle Ages. It was a common practice among the indigenous populations of the Americas and Africa as well as traditional Asian healers. Hijama therapy reached its peak as a therapeutic tool during the beginning of the nineteenth century but by the end of that century it had virtually died out. Through thousands of years of clinical experience, the applications of Hijama have greatly widened and now it is used to treat a large assortment of diseases.

Throughout European history most of the general population was treated by Hijama practitioners in the house and often rows of patients were treated simultaneously in special ‘bleeding houses’. In the 16th and 17th centuries Hijama therapy reemerged with the rise of public steam baths and bath attendants were responsible for performing Hijama. It was mostly done in a sauna and was often preceded by massage. Despite the rise of scientific medicine, this rich tradition of healers and dependence on herbal medicine and simple equipment survives. Hijama was used consistently throughout Europe in hospitals from very early times and it was practiced by skilled doctors.

Claudius Galen (129-199 CE) of Pergamon (now Turkey) (later, Rome) is shown "cupping" a patient. He was considered "the authority" until the Rise of Islamic Medical & Scientifical revolution in the Islamic Golden Age.

Hijama in Islam:
Muhammad Ibn Abdullah was born in Makkah around the year 570, during the period of history Europeans call the Middle Ages. He recommended the use of Hijama therapy as a means of preventive medicine and curing many ailments. “Hijama is one of the best ways for human beings to cure themselves.” He specified certain places on the body that should have this as a preventive treatment even if the individual is well. He specified the timing of this treatment and recommended it on the 17th, 19th, and 21st of the lunar calendar. It is these specific timings and places on the body that renders Hijama different from cupping. This is to do with the moon position, body fluids (water) and essences of the body and the elimination of toxins at a specific time. The body is made from almost 80% water, and water is effected by many other influences, such as the changing of the moon position, sounds, voices, words.

He also mentioned that Hijama should be done at the back of the neck, and between the two shoulder blades as this is where toxins accumulate and this place connects the brain to the rest of the body bringing oxygen into the brain and helping the body to repair itself.

Latin translations of Arabic medical works had a significant influence on the development of medicine in the high Middle Ages and early Renaissance. Medieval Islam developed hospitals, expanded the practice of surgery. Important medical thinkers and physicians of this time were Al-Razi (Rhazes) and Ibn Sina (Pur Sina). Their knowledge on medicine was recorded in books that were influential in medical schools throughout Muslim world and Europe, and Ibn Sina in particular (under his Latinized name Avicenna) was also influential on the physicians of later medieval Europe. All of them used the (Hijama) technique, recommend it and applied it regularly to there patients.

"شفاء أمتي في ثلاث, شرطة محجم أو شربة عسل أو كية بنار"

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