What is it?

Hijaamah comes from the root l-hajm, which means “sucking”, and is used of the action of draining the breast when an infant is suckled. Al-hajjaam is the name given to the cupper, and hijaamah is the name given to this profession. Al-mihjam is the name given to the tool in which blood is collected, or to the knife used by the cupper.

Over the months toxins build up in the body, without the approriate extractions of these toxins, they can cause problems within the body.

Cupping therapy as it is also known is an ancient therapy used all over the world, by many cultures and has been recently re introduced in western and eastern hospitals.

Cupping therapy involves introducing a flame into a glass, bamboo or a china cup, which will rid of oxygen and create a vacuum. This action is followed by the practitioner rapidly turning the cup on to the desired location. Depending on the energetic condition of the patient, the practitioner can then decide from ten different types of cupping methods, which will be the most suitable method for that patient.

Types of cupping

Ten Methods of Cupping

1. Weak (Light) Cupping (Tonifying Method) Suitable for Children, elderly or patients with deficiency syndromes.

2. Medium Cupping (Tonifying Method) the most used technique can be used on children over 7 years old.

3. Strong Cupping (Draining Method) not suitable for the elderly or children.

4. Moving Cupping (Draining Method) the most painful method, only to be applied to people with abundance of energies.

5. Needle Cupping (Draining Method) more for “Re” Hot type of “Bi” syndrome.

6. Moxa (Hot Needle) Cupping (Tonifying Method) to be used on Cold type “Bi” syndrome.

7. Empty (Flash) Cupping (Tonifying Method) beneficial for elderly, children and the weak and frail with Qi and Blood stagnation.

8. Full (Bleeding) Cupping (Draining Method) only when excess Heat is present, I,e hypertension accompanied by heat, boils and some skin conditions.

9. Herbal Cupping (Tonifying Method)

10. Water Cupping (Even method)

How would you benefit?

Generally speaking, most of the hands-on therapeutic techniques can include Cupping in their therapy. The ultimate aim of all hands-on techniques is to use physical application in order to stimulate the body’s natural healing powers by balancing the physical, mental and emotional energies and restore health to the individual. Therapies such as Aromatherapy, Massage, Chiropractic, Osteopathy, Kinesiology, Alexander Technique, Shiatsu, Reflexology, Polarity and Physiotherapy, can all incorporate Cupping in their main treatment model.

Cupping Therapy can be a treatment in a number of problems;

Commonly Treated Children’s Complaints

Dermatological complints, Asthma, Cough, Shortness of Breath, Digestive complaints, poor appetite, pain of any kind, vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, fright, hyperactivity, insomnia, earache, bed-wetting & growing pains.

Adult’s Complaints:

Pregnancy complints (before or after), Pain of any kind, Addictions (tobacco, food & alcohol). Head; headache, migraine, facial pain & neuralgia. Digestive complaints; Stomach ulcers, wind, gastritis, halitosis, indigestion, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea & habitual constipation. Respiratory complaints; Asthma, hay-fever & shortness of breath. Skin complaints; Eczema, psoriasis, dry and itchy skin conditions. Sexual system; Impotence, frigidity, painful periods, hot flushes and other menopausal complaints. Urinary system; Bedwetting, cystitis & enuresis. Ear, Nose and Throat; Sinusitis, loss of smell & catarrh. General State; Lack of energy & insomnia. Limbs and Muscles; Rheumatism, arthritis, lumbago, back pain & weakness of the limbs and muscles. Nervous system; Stress therapy, depression, anxiety, panic attacks & restlessness.

Detoxification is the most dramatic effect upon the skin and the circulatory system. The blood and the body-fluid flow in the arteries and veins increases, this results in the removal of toxins. Following few applications (3-5 sessions) skin will look healthier with more colour to it.

Why do it?

Well besides the obvious benefits, first and formost its a sunnah! Thats right! There is a reason why this deen has the answers to everything!

Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Healing is to be found in three things: drinking honey, the knife of the cupper, and cauterization of fire.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 10/136).
According to a hadeeth narrated by Jaabir (may Allaah be pleased with him), the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “If there is any good in your medical treatments, it is in the knife of the cupper, drinking honey, or cauterization with fire, as appropriate to the cause of the illness, but I would not like to be cauterized.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 10/139)

According to a hadeeth narrated by Anas ibn Maalik, may Allaah be pleased with him, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “I did not pass by any group on the night when I was taken on the Night Journey (Isra’), but they said to me, ‘O Muhammad, tell your ummah to do cupping.’” (Reported by Ibn Maajah; it has corroborating evidence which strengthens it).

Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was treated with cupping, and he paid the cupper his fee.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 10/124; Muslim 1202).

Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Messenger of Allaah was treated with cupping by Abu Tayyibah. He commanded that he should be given two measures of food, and he spoke with his tax-collectors, who reduced his taxes. He said, “The best treatment you can use is cupping.” (Reported by al-Bukhaari, 10/126; Muslim, 1577)

When should I do it?

It was reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas (may Allaah be pleased with them both) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The best times to be treated with cupping are the seventeenth, nineteenth or twenty-first [of the month].” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi, 2054; the isnaad is da’eef).

It was reported from Anas ibn Maalik (may Allaah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever wants to be treated by cupping, let him do it on the seventeenth, nineteenth or twenty-first, lest the blood flow too copiously and kill him.” (Reported by Ibn Maajah, 3489; there is some weakness in the report).

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Whoever is treated with cupping on the seventeenth, nineteenth or twenty first, will be healed from all diseases.” (Reported by Abu Dawood, 3861, and al-Bayhaqi, 9/340. The isnad is hasan).

Although the ahaadeeth quoted above are from different sources and may be weak to some extent, they give strength to one another.

Imaam Ibn al-Qayyim (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

“These ahaadeeth coincide with what the doctors agree on, that cupping should be done in the second half of the month, and that the third quarter of the month is better than the beginning or the end. But if cupping is done out of necessity it is beneficial at any time, even at the beginning or end of the month. Al-Khallaal said: ‘Ismah ibn ‘Isaam told me: Hanbal told me: Abu ‘Abd-Allaah Ahmad ibn Hanbal would be treated with cupping whenever his blood increased, no matter what time it was… They disliked having cupping done on a full stomach, because that could lead to obstruction and grievous diseases, especially if the food was heavy and bad… Choosing the times mentioned above for cupping is an extra precaution, to be on the safe side and to protect one’s health, but when it comes to treating disease, whenever it is necessary it should be used.

Al-Haafiz ibn Hajar (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “According to the doctors, the most efficacious cupping is that which is done at the second or third hour, after having intercourse or taking a bath, etc., and neither on a full nor empty stomach. With regard to specific days for administering cupping, it was reported in a hadeeth narrated from Ibn ‘Umar by Ibn Maajah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Administer cupping, may Allaah bless you, on Thursdays, and administer cupping on Mondays and Tuesdays, but avoid cupping on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.’ It was reported with two da’eef isnads, and there is a third version, also da’eef, reported by al-Daaraqutni in al-Afraad. He also reported it with a jayyid isnaad from Ibn ‘Umar but it is mawqoof (the isnad stops at the Sahaabi). Al-Khallaal reported that Ahmad disliked cupping on the days mentioned, even though the hadeeth was not proven. It was said that a man was treated with cupping on a Wednesday and he developed leprosy because he ignored the hadeeth. Abu Dawood reported from Abu Bakrah that he disliked cupping on Tuesdays, and said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: ‘Tuesday is the day of blood, and on that day there is an hour when blood does not stop.’ The doctors are agreed that cupping in the second half of the month, especially in the third quarter, is more beneficial than cupping at the beginning or end of the month. Al-Muwaffaq al-Baghdaadi said: The body fluids (humours) flow heavily at the beginning of the month and calm down at the end, so the best time to let the blood flow is in the middle of the month.”

It is clear from the above that the ahaadeeth which specify a particular time, when taken as a whole, indicate that there is a basis for this, especially since the words of the doctors are in agreement with it. If the seventeenth or nineteenth or twenty-first of a hijri month happens to be a Thursday, this is the best possible time for cupping, but this is not to say that it is not good to do it at other times. As a form of medical treatment, cupping should not be restricted to any particular time; it should be done as needed by the patient.

It is essential to make sure that you do it properly; cupping should be done by one who is experienced and he or she should use instruments that are properly cleaned and sterilized. The cupper must also ensure that no blood reaches the stomach of the patient.

Would it hurt?

While cupping is considered relatively safe (especially air cupping, which does not include the risk of fire and heat), it can cause some swelling and bruising on the skin. As the skin under a cup is drawn up, the blood vessels at the surface of the skin expand. This may result in small, circular bruises on the areas where the cups were applied. These bruises are usually painless, however, and disappear within a few days of treatment. Bruising can occur up to fifteen days following the treatment. However, not all cupping methods causes bruising, only some do. Children as well as adults can benefit from cupping therapy.

In addition, there are several instances where cupping should not be performed. Patients with inflamed skin; cases of high fever or convulsions; and patients who bleed easily, are not suitable candidates for cupping. Pregnant women should not have cupping on their stomach or lower back. If the cups are being moved, they should not cross bony areas, such as the ridges of the spine or the shoulder blades.

More information see:

Fath al-Baari by Ibn Hajar, 10/149;
Sharh al-Zarqaani ‘ala al-Muwatta’, 2/187;
al-Mughni by Ibn Qudaamah, 1/184;
al-Ma’aad by Ibn al-Qayyim, 4/60.
TCM-Cupping Therapy– By Ilkay Zihni Chirali