Hijama Benefits and Treatments
Hijama has stimulating and strengthening effects so it successfully treats the following conditions:
- Constipation and Diarrhea
- Back pain
- Period pain
- Emotional problems
- Common cold and flu
- Skin problems
- Weight loss and much more.
Even though Hijama is a very simple procedure, it has dramatic effects. Our health and well-being are tied up with the immune system and are totally dependent on the flow of blood and Qi (energy) and body fluids like hormones and lymphatic fluid. Traditional medicine tells us that all pain is due to stagnation of these symptoms. The cups used in Hijama have a wonderful pulling power and this is a dramatic technique in reducing pain and enhancing the feeling of well-being.
Importance of the skin
Any topical stimulus that is directed to influence and manipulate the internal or external organs must start with the skin. The body’s first contact with the outside world is through the skin and it is true to say that the skin is the mirror of our health. If a person has good health, his or her skin will be shiny, tight and smooth and will respond to temperature and will be warm when touched. The skin protects the body from pathogens and plays a role in a number of body functions. It is the main organ of sensation, through many millions of nerve endings contained in its structure.
The main fourteen channels with a direct link to the internal organs lie within the skin. When stimulating a particular point through Hijama, the organ’s blood and Qi is manipulated. In Chinese medicine the skin is directly controlled and influenced by the lungs. The lungs spread the Qi and fluids all over the body through the skin.
Blood is transformed from the essence of food produced through the functional activity of Qi that circulates through the blood vessels and nourishes the body tissue. Blood is derived from food and Qi and produced by the spleen. (Blood will be discussed in detail in the section about the anatomy of the body)
Qi is the invisible life force – like air and wind. The West tries to define Qi as ‘the energy of life’, ‘vital force’, ‘life force’, ‘energy’, but there is no Western equivalent. When we are ill we feel weak and have a low energy level but when we feel better we feel more energetic and much stronger. So we all experience the existence of Qi continuously. Movement of any kind requires Qi and often this is manifested as heat. Lack of energy is signified by cold.
When treating a disease at the Qi level, the external pathogen is still fighting at the skin and the body’s overall resistance is still good. Some clinical manifestations of this are a high fever, a cough with thin yellow phlegm, wheezing and thirst. Hijama treatment at this level is very effective.
Stagnation of body systems can be the result of lack of movement, injury, stress, a lack of blood, Qi or the invasion of cold into the body and joints. Cold drinks and foods or irregular feeding habits can also cause accumulation problems. All these impair the Spleen’s function of transformation and transportation. Clinical manifestations of this are restlessness, vomiting, and the production of phlegm, diarrhea, constipation, a hardened stomach and painful abdomen. Hijama relieves all these symptoms.
Regardless of the cause, Hijama can be applied to specific points of the body like what is done in acupuncture, to the area that is dysfunctional. After a short time the patient will feel warmth and there will be a reduction of pain.
Fluids in the body can also become stagnant and they are necessary to help the stomach carry out its proper digestive function.
Hijama therapy regulates the flow of Qi and blood. It also helps draw out and eliminate pathogenic factors like wind, cold, damp and heat. Hijama also moves Qi and blood and opens the pores of the skin, thus, assisting the removal of pathogens through the skin.
Hijama is also beneficial in beauty therapy as it promotes the production of hormones, encourages blood flow and body fluid movement in the bowels and internal organs. In this way toxins are removed and this is important because toxins speed up the aging process and cause other negative conditions.
Authentic holistic therapy balances all aspects of the body. The aging process speeds up when individual cells dry out, or too much sun. Kidney weakness also speeds up the aging process and leads to dry and damaged hair, early graying or hair loss. Imbalance in ladies also manifests in the early signs of menopause with hot flushes, night sweats and dry skin. Simply applying external lotion to the skin or hair does not access the root cause.
Stimulating and strengthening effects
The benefits of Hijama are uncountable due to its stimulating and strengthening effects. It has treated bowel conditions, headaches, back pain, arthritis, menstrual pain, injuries, asthma, cellulite, fatigue, anemia, depression and emotional problems, atrophy, sciatica, common cold and flu, skin problems, blood pressure, weight loss and ladies problems. The negative role of toxins in the degeneration of health is of ever-increasing importance. Even though modern medicine has eradicated many epidemics there is an increase in what is called civilization diseases (metabolism diseases). These diseases are caused by the great quantity of chemicals a person takes during his or her lifetime. A recent American statistic on food additives shows a 100-pound intake per person in his life span. The average American takes about 1000 tablets a year. This is a health catastrophe. Modern medicine differs greatly from its ancestors who maintained that the body functions are interrelated in a network.
Release of toxins and impurities
One of the main functions of Hijama treatment is that it releases toxins with minimal additional stress to internal organs. It also directly de-acidifies tissues, enhances blood circulation, stimulates the immune system and reduces stress as it releases chemicals in the brain that reduce stress and depression. Another benefit of Hijama therapy is that it facilitates a sufficient flow of nutrition to the affected tissues and stimulates the flow of blood and lymph to the affected area. In this way, it improves blood and lymph flow, and activates the function of the organs. Performing Hijamahon the corresponding organ points is used to treat disorders such as liver and kidney problems, respiratory diseases, digestive disorders and some gynecological disorders.
In ancient times, Hijama did not have specific indications and was mainly used to drain blood and pus from abscess and for sucking blood from poisoned wounds and snakebites. However, in later times this therapy expanded to encompass illnesses related to internal medicine such as pulmonary tuberculosis, rheumatism, abdominal pain, stomach ache, indigestion, headache, hypertension, common cold, lumbago, backache, swelling and eye pain and boils. In some places, Hijama therapy was used in conjunction with acupuncture. Today, Hijama is used to treat colds, lung infections and problems in the internal organs. It is also used to treat muscle spasms especially in the back. It can also be used to treat painful joints, stomachache, vomiting and diarrhea. Since Hijama stimulates the flow of blood it helps to treat blood stagnation, poor circulation, and asthmatic conditions.
Hijama strengthens the body’s resistance and eliminates pathogenic factors and so prevents illness. It also regulates the function of the blood and promotes general good health. By creating localized bruising, it activates the body’s defensive cells to heal the bruised area. In the past, people who were not ill often had Hijama done twice a year; in the spring and the autumn believing that thinning the blood would promote good health. This continued to the 19th century and was a regular practice.
Pearl divers in the Arabian Gulf used to undergo Hijama before the diving season in the belief that this would prevent diseases during the three months at sea. It was also thought to be very effective against dizziness.
Dr. Katase from Osaka University maintained that Hijama influences the composition of blood as it increases red and white blood cells and changes acid blood into alkaline or neutral blood thereby leading to the purification of blood. It also purifies the body of accumulated irritants that cause inflammation.
Recent studies indicate that having Hijama done at specific points on the back increases immunity by increasing the white blood cell counts. In addition to enhancing the body’s defenses, Hijama regulates blood circulation throughout the entire body. The flow of blood in the human body is very important as it regulates, coordinates and unifies the organs via the blood vessels. The flow of blood is the life force that maintains health and each organ receives its requirements of nourishment to maintain a healthy, normal state. The blood flows throughout the body nourishing tissues and enhancing the immune system.
Effect on circulatory system
Hijama also has a positive effect on the circulatory system. Due to the pull of low pressure, the flow of blood in arteries and veins increases and in the veins localized congested blood appears then disappears. With Hijama therapy it is possible to ease the interruption of blood circulation and congestion and to eliminate the inflammatory fluids from the tissues. So the greatest characteristic of Hijama is the facilitation of blood flow.
Effect on diseases
Almost all diseases respond to Hijama. The following are some of the most common:
Pain related conditions
Hijama eases pain, especially that which is related to headache, menstrual cramps, dental pain, tennis elbow, muscle pain, back pain and sciatica.
Headache and migraine
In the 18th century Al-Hijamah was considered to be an effective remedy for headache and it was highly recommended for migraine. The Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) used Hijama as a treatment for migraine.
Many rheumatic disorders simply disappear after just a few sessions of Hijama therapy. It has a great effect on back and joint problems and is especially helpful for conditions such as rheumatism, lumbago and stiff neck and shoulders because it increases blood circulation and mobility. By supplying more oxygen, hormones and essential enzymes to local tissues and joints, Hijama keeps local tissues warm and this increases elasticity and flexibility in muscles and joints. It also relieves muscle spasms and stiffness in muscular tissue and the pain that is associated with it. It has a remarkable effect on a stiff (frozen) shoulder. It is also effective for chronic joint rheumatism as it facilitates the flow of blood to the joints. It also removes congested blood and solves problems that cannot be solved with acupuncture.
In the beginning, Hijama was recommended for the treatment of arthritis and pain as well as gout. When treating arthritis the treatment is concentrated on the area of the joints concerned. If it is a mild case it is possible to have a complete cure.
Low back pain
Hijama relieves low back pain and in chronic cases it can be used along with acupuncture.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
Chronic fatigue syndrome is long-standing severe fatigue without substantial muscle weakness and without proven physical or psychological causes. It has been found that Hijama along with acupuncture is an effective treatment.
Fevers and local inflammation
Chinese doctors believe that a number of diseases are the result of blood stagnation and heat. They used Hijama to remove stagnant blood, activate blood circulation and dispel pathogenic factors. Hijama was used on patients suffering from flu, headache and fever.
Chest and heart diseases
Hijama is also recommended for the treatment of lung diseases, especially chronic cough, pleurisy, bronchial congestion and asthma. It was also advocated for the treatment of congestive heart failure until the 1930s. As recently as 1942, medical textbooks advised Hijama for high fever pneumonia and acute pneumonia. Hijama also successfully treats hypertension.
The stomach, spleen and intestines are considered to be the most important engines of the human body. From these areas the natural healing power of the body derives its energy. Dry Hijama stimulates the insides of these organs, their movement and secretion of digestive fluids and so strengthens the power of digestion, the absorption of nourishment and the power of secretion. It relives chronic gastroenteritis and constipation. These organs also benefit from Hijama treatment applied to the back as it stimulates the spinal nerves and automatic nerves as well as strengthening the muscles of the respiratory system.
Hijama therapy is known to treat stones, abscess and urine retention. Cups can be applied to the lumber region to treat urine retention.
The skin disorders that are well-known to be treated by Hijama are: boils, abscess, herpes, acne, cellulite and urticaria. Sometimes acupuncture is used in conjunction with Hijama. Hijama therapy is also known to stimulate hair growth through direct physical stimuli on hair roots and the expansion of blood vessels of the skin through the pull of low pressure. The skin is benefited in many ways through Hijama treatment as it stimulates the flow of lymph fluids which helps remove bacteria and carry proteins. This strengthens the power of the skin and its resistance too many harmful conditions, meaning it would regenerate faster if it is cut or wounded. The enhancement of blood circulation encourages a sufficient supply of nutrition to skin tissue. After Hijama, skin temperature rises and increases blood flow. Hijama also improves skin respiration and promotes gaseous exchange within cells. It also promotes metabolism within skin tissues and accelerates the functions of both sweat and sebaceous glands leading to the secretion of salts, sebaceous material and the excretion of sweat. The essential point of Hijama is not only to expel stagnant blood but also to expand blood vessels to facilitate blood flow and remove toxic substances from the surface of the skin.
Hijama therapy is like massage and is effective against anxiety and worry. Hence, insomnia is treated with Hijama in conjunction with massage. It also helps balance hormones, which is very effective when treating depression.
In the 18th century Hijama was considered an effective remedy for cholera and in America Hijama was encouraged during yellow fever epidemics. Furthermore, mumps was treated by applying water Hijama over the swollen glands.
Hijama removes stagnant blood from these fine capillaries. Hijama should never be done directly on the main varicose veins.
The lymphatic system is made up of lymphatic vessels (similar to blood vessels) and lymph nodes (glands) that extend throughout the body. It helps maintain the balance of fluid in the body by draining excess fluid from the tissues of the body and returning it to the blood system.
Closely related to the cardiovascular system, the lymphatic system has several major functions. It is important in the body’s defence mechanism, filtering out bacteria and also (along with the spleen) producing disease-fighting lymphocytes (white blood cells), generating antibodies that are so essential to the body’s immune system. The fluid that circulates in the system is called lymph. In addition to lymph, the system includes lymphatic capillaries and large vessels, lymph nodes (glands), the spleen, the tonsils and the thymus. Besides forming lymphocytes and antibodies, the lymphatic system is also responsible for the collection of fatty globules from the intestine and their transmission through the mesenteric glands and the thoracic duct into the bloodstream.
The lymphatic system also prevents infection entering the bloodstream. It also preserves the fluid balance throughout the body. After an injury, the affected tissue generally swells. It is the lymphatic system that removes most of the excess fluid, and then returns it for circulation. All forms of massage or tactile therapy that involve stimulation of the skin surface will result in improvement of blood and lymph circulation. One advantage that blood circulation has over lymph circulation is that blood is pumped around the body by means of the heart. In contrast, the circulation of lymph relies on breathing, movement (walking or exercising) or external pressure, which is usually administered by various types of compression garments or bandages, and gravity. Since the origin of the lymph is the blood plasma, the two fluids are very much interconnected and inseparable physiologically.
As the lymph circulates between the cells, it collects waste matter including dead blood cells, toxic material and, if present, some cancer cells. While blood is responsible for collecting and distributing oxygen, nutrients and hormones nourishing the entire body, the lymphatic system is responsible for collecting and removing waste products in tissues, acting as a systematic garbage collection service! When this waste is not collected adequately or effectively, it congregates as a localized congestion. Waste-laden lymph is filtered by lymph nodes that are located throughout the body, some superficially under the skin and others situated deeper in tissue in the abdomen and neck, under the arms and the intercostal spaces both to the front and back of the rib cage. The function of these lymph nodes is to remove some fluid and toxic matter as well as killing many pathogens. They are also sometimes responsible for trapping cancerous cells, slowing down the spread of the disease.
During cupping therapy, in particular when ‘moving cupping’ is employed, both blood and lymph circulator} – systems are simultaneously stimulated to work more efficiently. This results in a more efficient collection and transportation mechanism for toxic substances, depositing them into the lymphatic system to be destroyed, and allowing the circulation of fresh lymph in order to nourish the tissues and generate a booster to the immune system (Fig.1)
Fig 1.The lymphatic System.