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Cupping (Ḥijāmat)

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

Ḥijāmat is literally derived from an Arabic word ‘ḥajm’ which stands for volume, but technically used for “to suck”. It is a technique in which a cup is applied over the surface of skin by creating vacuum, and it is known as dry cupping (Ḥijāmat bilā Shart) (Figure 18). Sometimes, scarification is done at the location of cupping to draw blood from the body part to relieve internal congestion, and this process is known as wet cupping (Ḥijāmat bi’l-Shart).

Cupping therapy is a traditional medical practice that has been used in Unani medicine for thousands of years. It is a form of alternative medicine that involves creating a vacuum on the skin using heat or suction to draw up the underlying tissues. In this blog post, we will take a closer look at cupping therapy, its history and origins, how it works, the health benefits it offers, and the evidence behind these benefits.


What is Unani Medicine?

Unani medicine is a system of alternative medicine that originated in Greece and was later developed in the Middle East and South Asia. It is based on the idea that the human body has four fundamental elements: earth, water, air, and fire. Unani medicine emphasizes the use of natural remedies, including herbal medicines and physical therapies, to restore the balance of these elements and promote overall health.


History of Cupping Therapy in Unani Medicine

Cupping therapy has a long history in Unani medicine, and it is believed to have been used for over 3,000 years. In ancient times, cupping was performed using animal horns or bamboo tubes, which were heated to create a vacuum on the skin. Over time, the practice evolved, and today cupping is typically performed using glass or plastic cups that are heated and placed on the skin.


How Does Cupping Therapy Work?

Cupping therapy works by creating a vacuum on the skin that draws up the underlying tissues. The process starts by heating the cups, either using fire or a suction pump. The cups are then placed on the skin, and as the air inside the cup cools, it creates a vacuum that pulls the skin and underlying tissues into the cup. The cups are typically left in place for several minutes, during which time the body's natural healing process is stimulated.


Health Benefits of Cupping Therapy

There is a growing body of evidence to support the effectiveness of cupping therapy in treating a wide range of health conditions. Some of the health benefits of cupping therapy include:

  1. Pain relief: Cupping therapy has been shown to be an effective treatment for lower back pain, neck pain, and joint pain.

  2. Improved circulation: Cupping therapy increases blood flow to the area where the cups are placed, which can help to reduce inflammation and improve overall circulation.

  3. Respiratory health: Cupping therapy has been used to treat respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis, and the common cold.

  4. Digestive health: Cupping therapy has been used to treat digestive problems such as indigestion, bloating, and constipation.

  5. Skin health: Cupping therapy can improve the appearance of skin by reducing the appearance of cellulite and stretch marks.

  6. Mental health: Cupping therapy has been used to treat stress and anxiety, and it is believed to have a calming effect on the mind.

Galen performing Cupping Therapy

Evidence Behind the Health Benefits of Cupping Therapy

While there is a growing body of evidence to support the effectiveness of cupping therapy, more research is needed to fully understand the benefits and risks of this practice. Some of the studies that have been conducted on cupping therapy include:

A 2018 systematic review found that cupping therapy was effective in treating lower back pain. (Alabdulmohsin et al., 2018)
A 2018 systematic review of randomized controlled trials found that cupping therapy was effective in reducing pain. (Liu et al., 2018)
A 2013 study found that cupping therapy improved range of motion in people with osteoarthritis. (Fang et al., 2013)

Conclusion

Cupping therapy is a traditional medical practice that has

In conclusion, cupping is a traditional healing technique that has been used for centuries in Unani medicine. While more research is needed to fully understand the benefits and risks of this practice, cupping may be a useful complementary treatment option for some individuals.





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