“Hijama therapy or cupping is a traditional detox treatment which helps conditions related to blood or muscle such as headaches, migraines, frozen shoulder, back pain”, says Yasin Sharif, director of Hijama Clinic who also teaches Hijama in the United Kingdom.
Cupping is done by a trained cupping therapist. Although the practice is widely used in many Islamic countries, the experts are supposed to have an understanding of basic health science like human anatomy and physiology to conduct cupping.
Cupping in Eastleigh
Nairobi’s Eastleigh is one of the neighborhoods that cupping is majorly practiced due to its Muslim population.
Osman Mohamud Mohamed, a Hijama therapist who also runs Tawakal Cupping Center at Eastleigh narrates that Hijama is a traditional Muslim practice ordered by Prophet Mohammad (Peace Be Upon Him).
“The prophet (P.B.U.H) ordered us Muslims to treat ourselves with Hijama since it treats almost all the known diseases including those sicknesses related to the soul.
Going through cupping after every 3 months is highly encouraged and anybody above the age of 5 years can undergo the cupping”, says Mr. Osman.
Types of cupping therapy
Hijama involves two kinds; dry and wet cupping. In dry cupping, there is no blood coming out of the targeted skin surface while wet cupping; which is particularly preferred involves piercing the skin and letting out a small quantity of blood.
“Basically, two major types of cupping exist. They are dry cupping and wet cupping. The former does not involve scarification of the skin.
The wet cupping involves light piercing of the skin to allow for the removal of fat deposits, dead cells, and blood stasis”, states Yassin.
Cupping expert says that wet Hijama is widely practiced due to its effectiveness on the body.
Since major diseases are linked to improper flow of blood the use of blood discharge helps in treating various ailments.
“Wet cupping is the Islamically recognized form and much more beneficial than the dry cupping.
About 70 percent of human diseases result from the abnormal flow of blood throughout the body and wet cupping helps solve this problem effectively”, Yassin adds.
Who does cupping/Hijama therapy?
“Cupping is done by a trained cupping therapist. Although the training varies among experts across nations, the basic requirements include an in-depth knowledge of the prophetic traditions on establishing cupping, vast in basic knowledge of human anatomy and physiology and other basic health sciences”, explains Yusuf Mikail, Prophetic Medicine Therapist, based in Nigeria.
He adds, “The prospective therapist must also be grounded in the knowledge of cupping points and general precautions as regards cupping. In all, cupping has to be learned from a qualified expert or institutes specially designed for such”.
Diseases cured by cupping
According to Hijama therapist Osman, some of the many ailments cured and managed by cupping include cancer, diabetes, blood pressure (high and low) joint pains, knee pain, backache, and headache.
“Being a holistic healing mode, Hijama treats about 70 percent of human illnesses such as back pain, arthritis, and musculoskeletal pain, persistent low back pain, hypertension (high blood pressure), hypotension (low blood pressure), atherosclerosis, stroke, diabetes, headache, migraine, epilepsy, bronchial asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, thyroid dysfunction, hormonal imbalance, hepatitis B and C, infertility, obesity, skin problems among others”, states Yussuf.
Going through cupping, Adan Abdi, 22, Eastleigh residence, says that joint pain, general body fatigue, weakness, headache, and reduced sleep forced him to go for cupping as the best alternative option. And the result, he explains, was marvelous.
“I went through wet cupping in Eastleigh, it is not painful and usually takes around 20 minutes. Fortunately, the pain I had before began disappearing a day after the Hijama therapy was conducted on my body”.
Cost of cupping therapy
Considering the cost implications, Adan says that KE 500 is charged per cup. “It is cheap and affordable, going for KE 500 per cup.
I encourage people to try cupping therapy because it helps treat different diseases.
I have also seen friends and relatives who went through cupping and their health problems improved. Cupping, as I have seen doesn’t have any side effects”, he finalizes.
No known side effects
According to the cupping therapist, there is no known side effect of Hijama on the body and marks left on the skin surface disappear after a few days.
For the cupping therapy, experts suggest that pregnant mothers, menstruating women, people with cancer that has spread in the body and injured people shouldn’t go through the practice.
In the same vein, cupping, particularly wet Hijama, should not be done in fractured or wounded parts.
Medical professionals are concerned about the hygienic condition of the tools used – it should be clean to avoid the spreading of diseases.
People must consider choosing a good cupping therapist who will ensure the right procedure is followed.
Future use of cupping
Cupping therapist believes the practice will eventually exterminate numerous diseases if only more avenues could be created to spread ideas and knowledge of cupping.
“To me, cupping remains the best therapy ever evolved. If only the world can invest diligently in cupping, most of the deadly diseases would have become history.
My advice to therapists around the globe is to create more avenues for people to learn the benefits of cupping.
There should be a network for the exchange of ideas and knowledge and cupping should be given its prominence as is done in Germany, China, India and Egypt”, Yasin states.
The oldest medical books capture the existence of cupping therapy. “Those who do not know about cupping are advised to read about it.
The mention of cupping by pioneers of medicine suffices to show its efficacy. Ebers Papyrus, the oldest medical textbook contains a talk on cupping. Avicenna, the popular medical icon also described cupping in his works”.
Scientific evidence on cupping
“Overall, the body of CAM (Complementary and Alternative Medicine) literature on cupping is inconclusive.
Positive results are reported in many developing countries compared with the negative outcomes reported by the Western world. The application of Hijama is considered to be safe in general, based on long-term clinical usage.
According to the Journal of Acupuncture and Meridian Studies, the literature available lacks high-quality evidence to encourage the clinical use of Hijama. The general population should be made aware of its effectiveness or hazards.
“Al-Hijamah is a minor surgical excretory procedure that has medical and scientific bases in clearing blood and interstitial spaces from harmful and noxious substances.
Both modern Medicine and prophetic medicine proved the beneficial value of wet cupping therapy in the treatment of diseases that are different in etiology and pathogeneses”, explains Alternative and Integrative Medicine.
Studying cupping therapy
For individuals who would like to get in-depth knowledge of cupping, Hijama Clinic provides Hijama Cupping Online Certification Course with six units: Introduction to Hijama, the Sunnah of Hijama, the Human Body, Medical Awareness, Cross Infection Awareness and Hijama in Practice.
“Considering modern medicine many physiotherapists take the Hijama course as it complements their treatments and we have had doctors from NHS come to take the course with us and finally the government is considering a serious clinical large-scale study into Hijama”, says Yasin.