Hijama is the Arabic traditional medicine for wet cupping, where blood is drawn by vacuum
from a small skin incision for therapeutic purposes. It is reported that the Islamic prophet
Muhammad said, "Indeed the best of remedies you have is hijama, and if there
was something excellent to be used as a remedy then it is hijama.
In March 2011 three systematic reviews were analyzed for the effectiveness of wet and dry
cupping in which two out of three showed some evidence for effectiveness of cupping for pain.
Favorable effects were shown when wet cupping was combined with adjuvant conventional treatments.
However, one of the three reviews showed little effectivess for cupping for stroke rehabilitation.
Few randomized control trials have been done to examine the effectiveness of
cupping and many studies published are of low quality or have many limitations.
A study by Ahmed and colleagues was carried out in order to evaluate the efficiency
of cupping [hijama] therapy in management of rheumatoid arthritis. To sum up
they concluded cupping [hijama] combined with conventional medical therapy has several
advantages. It significantly reduces the laboratory markers of disease activity and
it modulates the immune cellular conditions particularly of innate immune response NK
cell % and adaptive cellular immune response SIL-20 (Ahmed, Madbouly, Maklad $ Abu-Shady,
Using a pre-post research design, 70 patients with chronic tension or migraine headache were
treated with wet-cupping. Three primary outcome measures were considered at the baseline and
3 months following treatment: headache severity, days of headache per month, and use
of medication. Results suggest that, compared to the baseline, mean headache severity
decreased by 66% following wet-cupping treatment. Treated patients also experienced the
equivalent of 12.6 fewer days of headache per month. We conclude that wet-cupping leads to
clinical relevant benefits for primary care patients with headache. Possible mechanisms of
wet-cupping's efficacy, as well as directions for future research are discussed.
There is some evidence that wet-cupping is effective in the treatment of nonspecific low
back pain. Studies have also shown some evidence that it may be effective in the treatment
of post-herpetic neuralgia. For the treatment of cancer, there is no scientific evidence
to suggest that hijama confers any health benefits.
While often used interchangeably, hijama and bloodletting are not similar techniques.
Bloodletting opens veins and bleeds patients, whereas hijama draws blood to a specific location
with suction and extracts it by perforating the skin. "A study by Bilal and colleagues
was aimed by comparing and analyzing the difference between the compositions of blood samples,
obtained through cupping (hijama) technique versus blood drawn intravenously.
There was a significant change in almost all parameters tested as compared to the
venous blood samples to scientifically evaluate the efficacy of the techniques used in
cupping (hijama) i.e. suction and removal of blood."