Perhaps you remember watching the last summer Olympics and seeing purple circles on Michael Phelps’ body. Many people wondered where those skin marks came from and were surprised to hear that it was a result of “cupping.” Even more surprising was that several Olympic athletes undergo this ancient Chinese healing practice. As Muslims, you may be familiar with the Arabic word for cupping: hijama, and may have already known that there are benefits to the practice.

Indeed, the Prophet () said,

“The best medical treatment you apply is cupping” (Abu Dawud).

Furthermore, Abu Kabshah al-Ansari (RA) narrated that The Messenger of Allah ﷺ used to have himself cupped on the top of his head and between his shoulders, and that he used to say: If anyone pours out any of his blood, he will not suffer if he applies no medical treatment for anything (Abu Dawud). He  also recommended specific dates for performing hijama; narrated by Abu Hurayrah (RA) that the Prophet (ﷺ) said, If anyone has himself cupped on the 17th, 19th and 21st it will be a remedy for every disease (Abu Dawud).

Benefits of Hijama

Blood Detoxification

It is thought that hijamah cleanses the body by getting rid of the unwanted and harmful blood in the body, improving the performance of the body’s organs. This can result in noticeable improvements in complexion.

Improved Blood Circulation

Hijama draws out the congested blood and increases the circulation of blood in the body. Proper circulation remedies many associated disorders caused by poor blood circulation.

Pain Relief

Hijama can reduce pain and stiffness of muscles and tendons. When the cups are placed on the area of discomfort, it removes the stagnated blood and increases the flow of detoxified blood. This allows for fresh nutrients and oxygen to reach those areas, providing instant relief. It also results in increased elasticity of your muscles and better performance of body organs. This is perhaps why athletes have begun to use hijama/cupping before competitions.

Hijama is also thought to increase the body’s immunity, regulate the body systems, treat headaches, back pain, arthritis, etc.

Indeed, hijama has several benefits and is a confirmed sunnah of our beloved Prophet (ﷺ). But before going for treatment, ensure that the practitioner is certified, well trained and uses sterile equipment. Do not practice hijama at home if you are not trained as that can cause injury. Always do your own research before starting a new treatment.