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Cupping for Cure - Sunnah Treatment
Dr. Mrs. Shahnaz and Sikander Jangda
March 31, 2012

Iranian clergyman Mehdi Heidari-Manesh receives `Cupping Therapy (Badkesh in Farsi)` on his back, in a traditional medical clinic in Tehran on February 25, 2012. Badkesh, or Cupping Therapy, is a popular traditional therapy in Iran, an ancient method of using glass or plastic cups to create localized vacuum pressure by using heat inside glass cups. GETTY

Doctor, Workshop leader and professional Hijamah therapist

Origin of Cupping

Cupping is a method of treatment method that can be traced back to ancient times; it was developed in the process of struggle against diseases. It is an important component in non-drug therapies.

Aim of Cupping

The aim of cupping is to extract harmful blood from the body. The Arabic name for cupping is Al-Hijamah. It was widely practised by the Prophet (saw) and his companions; the method is still alive in many countries, especially Asia and the Middle East. In the UK, the practice of cupping has a long history, with one of the leading medical journal, “The Lancet”, being named after it.

Principles of Cupping

At the time of the Prophet (saw), the Arabs viewed disease as a disturbed area in the equilibrium of body fluids. The Greeks believe that illness is caused by harmful and dirty blood, which must be removed in order for the disease to heal completely.

The whole process of cupping can take about 10 to 15 minutes and should be done on empty stomach. There are two types of cupping: dry and wet. The Prophet (saw) practised wet cupping and recommended this as the best treatment. Wet cupping (Hijamah) is the process of using vacuum at different points on the body. The skin is lacerated with blade, so that unclean blood is drawn into a cup.

Cupping in the Light of the Prophet`s (saw) Guidance

Numerous Ahadeeth highlight the importance of cupping. Some are as follows:

The Messenger (saw) said: “Indeed the best of remedies you have is cupping.” (Bukhari) He also said: “I did not pass by any group of angels on the night of Isra (night ascension), but all of them said to me: O Muhammad (saw); order your Ummah with Hijamah.” (Tirmidhi)

Palestinian therapist Rabhy Abu Jazar treats a patient suffering from backache and headaches using a form of cupping therapy which extracts blood from the patient, at his clinic in the Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, on November 17, 2011. GETTY

Cupping as a Preventive Treatment

Cupping can also be utilized as a preventative maintenance for the body. It cleans the body`s cardiovascular system, so diseases never get a chance to develop. Where disease already exists, cupping cleans the system to help it fight better and recover from it.

Benefits of Cupping

Cupping successfully treats the following conditions:

1. Blood disorders.

2. Rheumatic diseases like arthritis, sciatica, back pain, migraines and vomiting.

3. Depression, insomnia and other psychological disorders.

4. Lung diseases.

5. Digestive system disorders.

6. Skin problems.

It gives a feeling of deep pleasure and relaxation, so it can be used by a healthy person for general physical and mental wellbeing.

Cupping is also recommended for pain relief, varicose veins, deep tissue massage, and it results in up to 50% improvement in fertility levels. An investigation into the effect of cupping therapy as a treatment for anterior knee pain and its potential role in health promotion was done with the results revealing major improvements. Moreover, a recent systematic review included five trials on the effects of wet cupping on musculoskeletal problems. Its finding suggested that wet cupping is effective for treating lower back pain.

Al-Hijamah, or cupping, is a wonderful therapy packed with enormous benefits of the Prophetic Sunnah and an excellent method for detoxifying the body of harmful substances; this is a medical advantage which should be utilized to its very best.

Quarterly Hiba, Karachi

© Copyright 2012.

Warming up to an ancient cure
Debra Bruno
The Washington Post
January 24, 2012

Flame-heated cups made of glass are applied to a man`s back.

BEIJING - Not long after I moved to China, I learned I had a case of blocked qi. A practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine squeezed the top of my ear and informed me that the obstruction of my qi, or life force, was caused in part by my tendency to overthink. She also said I had some liver stagnation and a weak heart. Until that moment, I had thought I was just fine.

The practitioner suggested I try a remedy called cupping. I`d never heard of it before I moved to Beijing, though I had seen markings of it on others here: bright red circles across bare shoulders and backs that look like painful tattoos or hickeys. (Several years ago Gwyneth Paltrow caused a stir when the cut of her evening gown revealed a row of cupping marks all across her back.)

Though cupping, a form of acupuncture, has become something of a fad in Hollywood, it is only slowly catching on among the general public in the West. The aversion is understandable: Cupping involves the suctioning of flesh using warm cups that typically have been heated using a flaming stick. The heat inside the cup creates a vacuum that pulls the skin up a good inch or so in an effort to stimulate circulation, draw out toxins and stimulate the lymphatic system. The procedure is generally done on the back but can also be performed on the neck, legs and hips.

Some clinics opt for plastic cups, and some use oil to move the hot cups up and down the skin. There`s also “wet cupping,” or bleeding, in which a needle is inserted into the flesh before a cup is used to suction out blood from the spot that was pricked.

A dozen or more cups can be used, and the patient rests between five and 20 minutes while the skin inside the cups reddens. The redder the skin, the more proof that harmful toxins needed to be released, say practitioners. The marks disappear in a few days.

Cupping is a relatively benign process, although a singer in Taiwan was reportedly burned last year when a therapist accidentally spilled alcohol on his body and the alcohol was ignited by a flaming stick intended to warm a cup.

In the United States, there is no requirement for licensing of cupping therapists, and cupping products are available on In Asia, patients use it both as a home remedy and as part of traditional Chinese medicine treatment in clinics. In the United States, an hour-long session with a therapist costs about $55, according to Jesse Mac-Lean, director of education for the International Cupping Therapy Association, which is based outside Seattle. (A traditional acupuncture session generally ranges from $70 to $120.)

Lixing Lao, director of the Traditional Chinese Medicine Research Program at the University of Maryland School of Medicine`s Center for Integrative Medicine in Baltimore, said that once his patients learn about cupping, they prefer it to the needles of traditional acupuncture. MacLean said that while it`s difficult to track cupping`s popularity in the United States, her group has seen a “sizable increase in the last few years” of inquiries from both health-care practitioners and consumers wanting to learn more about the procedure.

Lao says he has seen many patients who have “improved or recovered after cupping treatment.” The technique, he says, is especially “useful for muscular-skeletal pain” affecting the back, neck, shoulders and hips. “It can be also used for internal disorders, such as stomachache, vomiting, diarrhea, asthma or cough,” he says.

Indeed, cupping has been said to help with an array of ailments from infertility, pain and colds to constipation, insomnia and drug addiction. Some practitioners also claim that it prevents disease.

Still, there is little if any solid evidence showing the health effects of cupping. A 2010 study funded by the National Basic Research Program of China and the National Institutes of Health`s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, looked at 550 clinical studies between 1959 and 2008, mainly in China. This review found that although cupping showed “potential benefits” for pain, herpes zoster (shingles) and other diseases, more and better studies were needed. On its Web site, the American Cancer Society says there is no “available scientific evidence” for the health benefits of cupping, and that reports of success with cupping “are mainly anecdotal.”

`They love it`

For Westerners coming to China, traditional healing techniques such as cupping have become something of a tourist attraction. Some tours mix standard stops at the Forbidden City and the Great Wall with morning lectures on traditional Chinese medicine and visits to clinics. David Zhang, general manager of the Joyful Bliss Massage Center in Beijing, said that once he explains cupping to Westerners, they are less apprehensive. “Then they experience it,” he said, “and they love it.”

Could I be one of those people? I decided to find out at the Beijing Traditional Chinese Medicine Health Preservation Research Center, an institution that looks more spalike than medical. I began with a tuina massage, which is more of a pressing and a pressure-point kneading than an oily, clothes-off process. And yet it ended up feeling pretty good. It lasted an hour, and I nearly fell asleep.

Afterward, I lay on my stomach and bared my back. Before I had a chance to get nervous, I felt a gentle pressure along my back, one after the other. Then the nurse put a warm blanket over the cups, and I half-dozed on the couch. Even though my skin had a tight feeling from being pulled up into the cups, it didn`t hurt.

After about 10 minutes, she pulled the cups off. I had 14 pink and red circles all over my back. I felt comfortable and relaxed, but I don`t know if that was from the massage or the cupping. By the end of the day, though, I felt dizzy, and my back felt lightly sunburned. A few days later, the marks had become more faint, and my skin a little itchy.

As for the effects, well, I haven`t lost the problem of overthinking. Whether my treatment prevented any future disease is something I may never know.

Bruno is a freelance writer in Beijing.

© Copyright 2012, The Washington Post Co. All Rights Reserved

Astha Gupta
The Sunday Mail
October 23, 2011

An Iranian man receives `Hijamah` or `Wet Cupping Therapy` in a medical clinic in Tehran on February 27, 2012. Hijama is a popular traditional medical treatment in Islamic countries where blood is drawn by vacuum from a small skin incision for therapeutic purposes. Cupping therapy has been found in ancient records dating back 3500 years and it is still used in Asian and Islamic countries like China, Iran and Arab world.

Can this ancient Chinese practice re-energise and heal your ailments? Astha Gupta finds out

Cupping is revered by the Chinese, who claim it treats a wide range of issues, such as the flu I was enduring when I showed up for my appointment with Kim Harris.

Current symptoms aside, when Harris learnt I`d had asthma since childhood, she said it indicated my kidney and lung energy needed a boost and cupping could help. In oriental medicine, these two organs are responsible for the strength (or otherwise) of the immune system.

Cupping is a system that works by regulating the flow of qi (or invisible life force) and blood (the source of nourishment and nutrients). The nature of qi is warm and flowing. If it becomes congested it can lead to poor circulation, eventually creating congestion in the body, especially in the muscles.

Drawing out toxins

According to Harris, “The purpose of cupping is to create a vacuum or negative pressure on the surface of the skin. Drawing up the skin is believed to open the pores, which helps to stimulate the flow of blood, balances and realigns the flow of qi, breaks up congestion and obstructions, and creates an avenue for toxins to be drawn out of the body.” It sounded promising and I hoped it was the balm my croaky throat and sore muscles needed.

During a session, oil is applied to the skin where the cups will be placed. The cups are warmed using a flame, which is then placed inside the cup to remove all the oxygen and create a vacuum. As the flame is removed, the cup is turned upside down and placed over a specific area of the body. Harris chose points on my back which correlated to my lungs and kidneys.

I was quite nervous when Harris placed the first cup on my back. I felt a strange tugging sensation, as if my muscles were being gently lifted and released.

To my surprise, it was actually pleasant and I slowly relaxed.

The mark of health

After leaving the cups for 10 to 15 minutes, Harris used a combination of massage and acupuncture to relieve the flu symptoms and rebalance my immune system. She said cupping would also help my circulation, open up the lungs by eliminating phlegm and strengthen my digestive system.

Following the 90-minute treatment, she sent me off with a warning that I would have small, circular marks on the skin where the cups were applied. Back home, the discolouration on my back startled my husband, but I was proud to be in the company of Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna, Victoria Beckham and Paris Hilton, all of whom have shown off their cupping marks.

Was cupping my magic cure?

Well, the flu was gone in a week but sceptics might say that is no miracle. My digestive system has been kick-started and I am happy to report my symptoms of constipation appear to have been relieved. Cupping wasn`t the magic pill or quick fix I was looking for, but it sure seemed like a recipe for good health.

The writer underwent cupping at Sydney`s Health Body Soul centre ( Sessions cost $85.

© Copyright 2011 News Ltd. All Rights Reserved

Cups of good health
By Intan Maizura
New Sunday Times
October 03, 2004

A man suffering from a severe chest complaint hopes to improve circulation by covering his torso and head with cupping-glasses at a street side traditional medicine stall in Ho Chi Minh City April 13, 1997. An estimated 90 per cent of Vietnamese seek traditional medicine treatment for illness, often only resorting to western medicine in the case of an emergency. REUTERS

THANKS to Gwyneth Paltrow, the ancient art of healing known as cupping may soon be back in vogue, reports INTAN MAIZURA.

HER APPEARANCE AT the July 7 Anchorman premiere in Manhattan had many observers whispering about the mysterious spots dotting her back. Paltrow was definitely not wearing a polka dot dress and it wasn`t a case of unsightly acne, but what were they? It appears even some of her celebrity fraternity, Nicole Richie, Geri Halliwell, Ashley Judd et al are sporting them. And it`s doing them a world of good, it seems.

Those circular red marks are in fact the result of cupping, an ancient form of alternative therapy. Malays know it as bekam, in Arabic, it is al hijamah, and for the Chinese, it`s sometimes known as ba guan fa or shan huo fa.

In the past, particularly among the Kelantanese Malays, buffalo horns, drinking glasses and bamboo cups were used as the tools. The Chinese and the Arabs even went as far as using animal horns at one time.

Admittedly, it was hardly a hygienic way of doing things. Thankfully today, practitioners of cupping use special clear plastic cups, normally imported from China, to carry out the `treatment`.

“Cupping is actually a dying `art`. It used to be practised by the older generation but with them gone, it may also go. Today`s generation sees it as rather archaic,” begins Professor Dr Nik Omar of the Persatuan Pengamal Perubatan Homeopathy, Malaysia. “But we want to ensure that it never disappears.” The procedure involves attaching special `cupping` cups to various parts of the skin`s surface, which in turn works by `pulling` the toxins out of the body.

Explains the doctor who has a practice not only in Kuala Lumpur but also Pasir Mas, Kelantan: “It is able to warm and promote the flow of energy in the blood which subsequently helps to dispel cold dampness, toxins and wind. Even swellings and other types of pain can be treated.” According to Dr Nik, ailments such as lumbago, sciatica, lower back pain, discomfort in the arms and shoulders, legs, muscles, stomachache, headache, migraine and even insomnia respond well to cupping.

“What`s good about this is that there are no side effects. Nobody needs to be cut up, there are no drugs to be consumed, no steroids, nor poison,” elaborates the doctor, emphatically.

“It is also natural therapy - things work parallel to our body`s demands. We are not introducing anything into the body that could potentially cause harm.” Leading me to an elderly patient who has obviously seen better days, he demonstrates the process. Taking some needles, he begins to stick them into various parts of her body, including the top of her head. Once all the points are covered, Dr Nik proceeds to take out magnetic plastic cups of various sizes from a special case.

“See this lady. She has had a stroke and is unable to walk properly.

What I`m doing now is actually innovative cupping: a method that combines several different techniques to treat the lady`s condition.

“She`s so weak because of all the toxins in her. So now, she`s basically being treated through normal medication, acupuncture and magnetic cupping.” You don`t need to be elderly to benefit from this type of therapy.

According to the somewhat gregarious Dr Nik, his practice is even frequented by lithesome air stewardesses.

“Yes, they always come,” he confides. “You know how it is. They`ve probably been given three months to lose what excess weight they have or face being `grounded`. So they come here and undergo sessions of 45 minutes each time until they get the desired result.” In the case of slimming or beauty, cupping works by dragging the cup/cups up and down the surface that needs to be worked on. For example, trouble areas for women tend to be their thighs, hips and backsides.

By continuously massaging the surface through the cups, it helps to rid excess fat. “The blood will start to flow properly again and you`ll definitely feel the lightness,” claims the doctor.

“Even those who have quite small breasts can try. We massage via the cups and this helps to tighten the muscles.” As for men, forget Viagra. According to Dr Nik somewhat conspiratorially, those who have problems with the size of their penis can also try out cupping. “We use a special vacuum pump in this case and the patient needs to come daily until they are satisfied.” For those interested in this form of alternative therapy, Dr Nik can be consulted at: Homeopathy Medical Centre, 128A and B, Jalan Raja Abdullah, Kampung Baru, Kuala Lumpur (tel: 03-2692 6549) or Hospital Homeopathy Dr Nik Omar, 122 Kampung Gelang Mas, Bunut Susu, Pasir Mas, Kelantan (tel: 09-7972 948).

© 2004 New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad





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