Hijama or wet cupping is a method that has been questioned across the world.

Furore after a Facebook post by Kerala doctors criticising Hijama is taken down
news Medicine Wednesday, June 07, 2017 - 20:05

A section of doctors in Kerala are agitated after a Facebook post critical about an ancient method of treatment called ‘Hijama’ or wet cupping was removed.

The post by a Facebook page called ‘Infoclinic’, run by a few doctors, had criticized the Arabic method that claims to draw out impure blood using a cup after making incisions on the body.

The post however was taken down by Facebook after many people reported it as ‘spam’ or as harmful.

The article pointed out that the ‘miracle method’ was unscientific and there was no rational explanation to it. The article was written by Infoclinic members Dr Nelson Joseph, Dr Kiran Narayanan, Dr Jemal and Dr Jinesh PS.

"We have not get a convincing response even from those who practice hijama on how drawing impure blood from the body can keep away diseases," the post had said.

"Is there any study or research on it? From which blood vessel is the blood drawn out? How does the blood clot? No response to all these questions. Hijama is an outdated method based solely on faith. There is no convincing explanation for this. There is no impure blood in human body to draw out, what is there is de oxygenated and oxygenated blood. About the argument that Hijama eliminates the toxic content in the body, kidneys and liver serve that purpose," the post said.

Hijama or Wet Cupping

"As per Hijama, the so called pure blood flows through the artilleries and the impure blood through vessels. It is impossible to find the artillery or vein on the back. There are no big blood vessels there either. Then how can they make these precise incisions to draw out blood," the post asked.

It went on to warn that Olympian athletes like Michel Phelps and others with no diseases may have done cupping, but it was not advisable for those suffering from various ailments to opt for it.

Hours after their post was taken down by Facebook, Infoclinic page said that this was the first time that they had faced such a situation. "The group was formed a year ago. Since then we have put 94 posts. The one against Hijama was our 94th post. Nothing had happened to the previous 93 posts. But the one against Hijama was deleted within hours. We stand against unscientific methods and unscientific campaigns."

What is wet cupping and dry cupping?

According to Edzard ErnstUniversity of Exeter, ‘Dry cupping involves a warm cup being placed over the skin. As the air in the cup cools it creates a suction effect which draws in the skin as the cup is placed on it. The suction is usually strong enough to create a haematoma, a swelling of blood within the tissues that is much larger than a normal bruise’.

But Hijama or wet cupping according to Ernst is painful and carries a risk of infection .”Wet cupping involves causing a superficial injury to the skin and then applying a cup over the injured site. This procedure will draw a small amount of blood into the cup,” he writes.

In 2004, it was actor Gwyneth Paltrow who re-ignited interest in cupping after she was photographed with circular hematomas of cupping on her back.

Athletes like Phelps have openly endorsed dry cupping, but Ernst says that clinical trials that support cupping are of very poor quality – ‘many do not have good controls and/or are subject to bias, and some report results which, quite frankly, are too good to be true’.

Michael Phelps/Instagram

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.