Hijama (cupping): a review of the evidence



Hijama means cupping, but in Arab and Muslim culture it refers to wet cupping. At present, there is much controversy around the practice of wet cupping. To evaluate the current scientific evidence for Hijama, specifically wet cupping, we searched for relevant literature using CAM on PubMed, ACP journal club, Cochrane controlled trials register, Cochrane database of systematic reviews, Cochrane methodology register, database of abstracts of reviews of effects, health technology assessment database, Journals@Ovid, MEDLINE and the NHS economic evaluation database. Three systematic reviews investigated the effectiveness of wet and dry cupping. Two of the reviews found some evidence of effectiveness for cupping and pain. Favourable effects were reported for wet cupping when used as an adjuvant to conventional drugs. The third systematic review found very little evidence of effectiveness for cupping and stroke rehabilitation. Other clinical and observational studies were of limited quality. Few randomised controlled trials have examined the effectiveness of cupping (specifically wet cupping), and those that have been published were generally of low quality, with many limitations.