Wet cupping or ‘Hijama’, which comes from the Arabic word for ‘sucking’, took on particular importance in the Arab world, after words of the Prophet Muhammed. Wet cupping has been credited in the Islamic faith as a cure for various ailments such as headaches, stomach problems, poisoning and alleviating pain. Hijama supposedly will help to remove impurities and stimulate bone marrow to produce new blood and increase circulation. Hijama is a combination of cupping and blood-letting. Cupping is widely used to treat pain and muscular aches, indigestion, colds, fever and even arthritis. Whilst blood-letting is credited with removing toxins, excess iron and excess red blood cells from the body.
The skin is first shaved, to ensure a tight seal with the cup. The mouth of a cup (metal, glass and plastic cups are generally used, although traditionally horns were used) is placed on the skin and a tight seal is created. The traditional method was to burn a small piece of paper or cotton inside the vessel, so that the mouth of the cup clings to the skin. Modern practitioners now use a machine instead, although others strictly adhere to the classic method with the use of fire, both for sterility and the benefits or properties from the element of fire itself. The cup is left to cling to the skin for a few minutes, then it is lifted off and a couple of small incisions are made in the skin. The cup is then put back as it was before until the flow of blood subsides Cupping usually leaves round bruises on the treated area which will fade within a few days.