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Exploring the Origins and Evolution of Hijama: A Brief History

Updated: May 9

What is Hijama 

  • Definition:

    • "Hijama" translates to "cupping" from Arabic.

    • Its interpretations include "to reduce in size" or "to return the body to its natural state."

  • Practice:

    • Involves the extraction of toxins from the body.

    • A cup is applied to a small area of the skin, extracting toxic blood from small vessels in muscle groups.

    • Increases blood flow to a specific area, facilitating the elimination of trapped toxins in the tissue.

  • Historical Methods:

    • Initial mentions of Hijama involve the use of animal horns or sea shells to create the vacuum effect needed for blood extraction.

  • Benefits:

    • Extraction of small amounts of blood provides numerous benefits.

    • Focuses on reducing toxic blood in the body and balancing the 4 humors (blood, phlegm, yellow bile, black bile).

History of Hijama 

  • Origin and Antiquity:

    • Hijama dates back to around 3500 BC.

    • It is believed to have been practiced worldwide for centuries.

  • Global Practice:

    • Historical dynasties such as the Greeks, Chinese, Arabs, and Native Americans all practiced some form of cupping therapy.

  • Historical Transmission:

    • Egyptians introduced cupping therapy to ancient Greeks.

    • Greeks subsequently spread the practice throughout Europe.

  • Written Documentation:

    • Written records of Hijama therapy have been discovered in ancient Egypt, Greece, and China.

    • Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, advocated for the use of both dry and wet cupping in treating various illnesses.

Prophetic History

  • Prophetic Endorsement:

    • Prophet Mohammed PBUH described cupping as one of the best remedies.

    • He emphasized its healing properties alongside honey and cautery.

  • Spiritual and Physical Healing:

    • Hijama is believed to promote healing of both the body and soul.

    • Its endorsement as a Prophetic Medicine highlights its significance in Islamic tradition.

  • Optimal Timing:

    • According to tradition, the best time for Hijama is during the middle of the month.

    • Specifically, the 17th, 19th, and 21st days are considered optimal, as toxins have fully accumulated in the body by this time.

Modern Practices

  • Modern Tools and Techniques:

    • Evolution of Hijama practice includes advancements in cupping tools.

    • Traditional tools like horns have been replaced by custom-made glass bowls for precision and standardization.

  • Expanded Benefits:

    • Over the centuries, new benefits of Hijama have been discovered.

    • It's now used in treating a range of conditions including nausea, cardiovascular disease, metabolic disorders, and narcolepsy.

  • Global Acceptance:

    • In China, Hijama is integrated into common medical practices.

    • Its benefits have been recognized in the East for centuries, with Ge Hong stating that cupping and acupuncture alone can cure most ailments.

  • Medical Endorsement:

    • The Harvard Medical Institute has published papers emphasizing the efficacy of Hijama.

    • One notable paper discusses its use for treating chronic pain in pediatric care.


  • Qureshi, N. A., Ali, G. I., Abushanab, T. S., El-Olemy, A. T., Alqaed, M. S., El-Subai, I. S., & Al-Bedah, A. M. N. (2017). History of cupping ( hijama ): A narrative review of literature. Journal of Integrative Medicine, 15(3), 172–181.

  • Siddiqui, S. A., & Shoaib, M. (2022). Hijama (Wet Cupping) an ancient traditional healing: A Review. International Journal of Unani and Integrative Medicine, 6(1), 11–16.

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