Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Interview with Dr Tamer Shaban, author of "The Complete Guide to Cupping Therapy"

Interview with Dr Tamer Shaban, the author of "The Complete Guide to Cupping Therapy"

This is a guest-post in the form of a written interview with Dr. Tamer Shaban - a physician and author based in Egypt.

- Please give us a short introduction about yourself, and in particular how you ended up getting involved with hijama ?

My name is Dr Tamer Shaban. I am a physician. I got my Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery Degree before I got to know about cupping therapy. My father suffered from low back pain and Sciatica. He tried a conventional medicine without any success. A practitioner of cupping therapy did the procedure for him, and his symptoms disappeared. He was in need of doing cupping therapy every month for three months and then whenever the pain would appear. I learned cupping therapy from a university professor, and got a certificate in Cupping therapy and another certificate in acupuncture to treat my father. Then I studied many other complementary medicine therapies such as herbal medicine, hypnotherapy and nutrition.

- What particular illnesses/ conditions (if any), do you specialise / had the most experience in?

All types of pain conditions, asthma and infertility

- And do you find that in your experience, the conditions/illnesses that you have come across respond well to cupping (hijama) therapy? And if so, what are they?

Yes, the success of cupping therapy in pain conditions is about 90%, and in infertility about 60%. I do not recommend to do cupping therapy for diseases without any evidence of its effectiveness for that disease.

- Also what would you say about using cupping as a general preventative therapy (which by getting rid of bad blood/ toxins in the body may help prevent conditions like high cholesterol/ heart disease / cancer in the long term)? And how often would you recommend this (once a month? once/twice a year?)

Cupping can be done as a preventive therapy (as a type of sunnah) but until now there is no study conducted to show if the cupping therapy prevents the body from any disease. There is no bad blood in our body, it is a collection of old red blood cells and inflammatory cells which produce pain. It can be done once per year.

- How often do you get hijama done yourself, and what for (if any specific condition) and who do you go to to get it done (since it is not an easy therapy to self-administer)?

A physiotherapist professor did hijama for me to treat migraine, and it was very effective

- What is the overall prevalence of hijama therapy in Egypt? Is it available in hospitals and clinics as a valid alternative / sunnah therapy?

Hijama is a well known therapy, there are good practitioners especially physiotherapists. Cupping therapy is still under research, it is not available in hospitals. Egyptian universities made a great contribution in the field of cupping therapy with many positive results. Many researches were conducted and submitted for master and MD degrees in the field of cupping therapy in Egyptian universities.

- If you know of any clinics / hospitals that provide hijama therapy in Egypt then where would you recommend people to go for this therapy, if they are visiting Egypt?

I recommend to do cupping therapy in your country (UK), and you can contact International Cupping Therapy Society for the available clinics in your country.

- You are a founder member of The International Cupping Therapy Society, please tell us a bit about that, who the members are, what you have achieved so far, and how therapists can join this society.

International cupping Society is one of my achieved dreams , I worked with Dr Munir Ravalia of Zakariya Health Studios (www.zhijama.co.uk) to do that. We have now members from all over the world, from USA, UK, Croatia, Netherlands, Egypt, Australia, India, UAE and other countries.

We will publish a magazine in the field of cupping therapy (Cupping Today) from 1st January InShaa allah. We have organized an International Cupping Society Diploma. Cupping therapists are welcome to join the society. Please visit the Society website for more details www.internationalcuppingsociety.com

- How long did you research this therapy before writing your book: "The Complete Guide to Cupping Therapy"

About five years.

- Finally, where can people buy your book/s

You can find them here:

Dr Tamer Shaban


Email: tamer.shaban@gmail.com


Our thanks to Dr Tamer Shaban from Egypt for sharing the above post. If you have any questions for Dr Shaban or indeed have been treated by him and want to leave him a testimonial(!), then please do so via a comment* below.

If you are a hijama therapist or patient and are happy to share your knowledge or experience via a guest blog-post like the one above, please send me an email to: hijama.mail@gmail.com.


Monday, 14 September 2009

A review of Cupping by Dr. Rehan Zaidi, a licenced Naturopathic Physician

Cupping - Written by Dr. Rehan Zaidi from Amman, Jordan

The following article is reproduced and adapted from http://www.mysticmedicine.com with the kind permission of the author.


Cupping, like many natural treatments, adheres to a paradigm of body physiology that is dissimilar to our modern day understanding of physiology. As in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the body is thought to have channels of excess and deficient energy that require balancing. Cupping is a method of manipulating this energy to achieve balance and consequent cure.


The following is a typical cupping session:

* The practitioner asks the patient about his or her chief complaint and associated symptoms.

* Based on this picture the practitioner confirms the diagnosis by asking seemingly unrelated questions about the patient's temperament, likes and dislikes, sleeping patterns, and possibly diet.

* The patient is then instructed to sit or lie in a position depending on where the cups will be applied. Cups are usually applied to large, flat body surfaces such as the back, but other limbs can be included depending on the need.

* The practitioner ignites a ball of cotton held with tongs. With the other hand he holds a special cup at a slight angle near the patient's skin. The burning cotton ball is inserted deep into the cup and then removed,and immediately the rim of the cup is placed fully onto the skin. The flame has warmed and expanded the air in the cup and suction is created as it cools, pulling toxins from the skin.

* These cups are placed on the body for 5-15 minutes.

* For the blood-letting portion the cups are removed and then slight superficial incisions are made to the skin. The air in the cups is reheated and this time venous blood is suctioned from the cuts. Up to 250ml of blood could be taken from the body per session.

* Bruise-like welt marks remain on the skin where the cups were placed, but they disappear within 2 weeks. The cuts may take a bit longer to heal, often with minimal or no scaring.

* People usually describe a sensation of wellbeing and lightness in the body following the session, but discomfort during the blood letting procedure is expected.


Hijama is an ancient method of healing that dates back 281 A.D. Commonly called cupping, it is actually a combination of both cupping and blood-letting. Cupping alone is the application of vacuum filled cups to specific areas of the body. Blood-letting is usually performed with cupping, although cupping is often performed without blood-letting. Blood-letting is the part of the treatment that drains the body of "excess" blood. Both methods provide their own therapeutic effects according to Eastern medical sciences such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, but the full hijama treatment is believed to be stronger in its effect. Nevertheless, blood-letting is not indicated for all people receiving cupping because it may be more than certain patients can handle. According to the energetic theory of the body, the body may have deficient or excess energy. Excess-type conditions would benefit from the draining effect of blood-letting, but a person suffering from a deficient-type condition may be harmed by the procedure. An excess condition, for instance, might be seen in a young man who has developed a strong barking cough, has a large robust body and full red face. On the other hand, a deficient type condition may be seen on a thin and weak elderly woman who complains of a chronic cold that she can't get rid of. She may be a candidate for cupping, if it is indicated, but not for blood-letting.


Despite Modern Medicine's dismissal of the practice as crude and uncivil, cupping is revered for its healing capacity throughout the Far and Middle East. But does cupping genuinely work or have all these millenniums just been filled with false claims?

Although these therapies were known to the Arabs long before the Islamic era, prophetic traditions promoting their practice may be one reason hijama continues to be widely used. Sayings such as "Blessed is a servant who practices cupping (hijama). It cleanses the blood, dries out internal inflammations, and brightens the vision," and "Cupping (hijama) is one of the best medicines," are just two among many in sahih hadith collections like Bukhari.

Another possible reason for the continued use of hijama in the Middle East may be that it has become part of an Eastern cultural tradition which has been passed down over the years by various classes of people, from those with no medical training all the way to physicians. Formal training for the practice is rare and regulation is unheard of in the Arab World. So many people have seen hijama used in their own households that they feel comfortable enough to administer and likely teach the practice to their family members.

In China, North America, Australia, and parts of Europe however, integrative practitioners that use cupping are formally trained in the practice and it is a regulated act. The practice makes sense physiologically, and this is perhaps the reason for the medical support it receives. Applying a vacuum to the skin and drawing blood can both stimulate the bone marrow to produce new, healthier blood, and both can increase blood circulation and decrease chronic pain in localized areas of blood stagnation. Nevertheless, these basic physiological explanations fall far short of explaining the incredible array of conditions that cupping has claimed to cure over the years. As such, it is fair to say that there is a lot to the body that we still do not understand and thus may have to learn from other paradigms that provide explanations such as the Eastern medicines that recognize energies as real forces acting within the body.


As we begin to investigate alternative medical approaches, many physicians will dismiss non-conventional practices as unscientific. Keep in mind, however, that Western medicine admits the use of many conventional drugs whose effects are still not fully understood. What all this means is that there is a lot going on in the body that we don't quite understand yet. Recognizing patterns of how the body reacts to certain interventions is the only way to discover new treatments. Although anecdotal evidence does not prove that cupping works, it definitely draws attention to the subject for further investigation. As such, cupping's long track record and the large number of people who faithfully stand behind the practice warrants scientific studies to be performed on the subject. Until then:

* Do not abandon any proven conventional treatments in favor of cupping.

* Avoid hijaama if you have a phobia of seeing blood, have a bleeding disorder, or are on anticoagulant therapy.

* If you decide to go the alternative route, find an experienced practitioner, or ask about qualifications and training if possible.

* Do keep an open mind especially if conventional medicines are not helping as much as you would like.

Dr Rehan Zaidi


Website: http://www.mysticmedicine.com

Our thanks to Dr. Rehan Zaidi, clinic director of Shifa Integrative Medicine in Amman, Jordan and one of the founders of MysticMedicine.com, for sharing the above post. If you have any questions for Dr Zaidi or indeed have been treated by him and want to leave him a testimonial(!), then please do so via a comment* below.

If you are a hijama therapist or patient and are happy to share your knowledge or experience via a guest blog-post like the one above, please send me an email to: hijama.mail@gmail.com.

*Comments are moderated to prevent spamming so may take some time to appear.