Free and paid cupping therapy; Very popular in Idlib but not licensed

A cupping therapy center in the northwestern city of Idlib, northern Syria - June 5, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Shams al-Din Matoun)

A cupping therapy center in the northwestern city of Idlib, northern Syria - June 5, 2023 (Enab Baladi/Shams al-Din Matoun)


Idlib – Shams al-Din Matoun

“Umm Adel Tabiya” learned cupping (Hijama) five years ago through a center that provides alternative medicine services when she was being treated for migraine pain in the Idlib region, northwestern Syria.

The displaced woman from Eastern Ghouta, in her thirties, says that she helps women relieve their pain by treating them with cupping, and she also teaches them cupping in women’s training centers.

Hijama or cupping therapy centers are very active in the areas of the city of Idlib without licenses, and their provision is not limited to the centers, as they are performed by people at home.

Cupping is a therapeutic process based on the withdrawal of harmful substances and toxins from the body, which can be the cause of certain diseases, or may later cause future diseases.

It’s free

The woman told Enab Baladi that she had suffered for several years from migraine pain, and the chemical drugs did not work for her until she resorted to one of the Arab medicine services centers, which are centers known for treating diseases using natural ingredients based on oils, dates, and cupping as a treatment to relieve and prevent pain. She was treated and learned how to perform it on others.

“Umm Adel” does not charge any fees for teaching cupping or performing it on women, as she said, “I ask those who want to do cupping to bring special cups, scalpels, and sterilization tools, or to pay for them, but I do not take a fee for the work.”

Women accept cupping because they believe that it contributes to the treatment of varicose veins, aging diseases, rheumatism, diabetes, heart murmur, clogged arteries, migraine, infertility, impotence, high blood pressure, and cancer.

Cupping is also widespread in non-specialized centers, or it is performed by people who do not get paid for it, considering that it is a matter of helping people.

Sixty-year-old Mohammad Qadahnoun from the city of Sarmin provides cupping therapy to his neighbors and acquaintances for free.

Qadahnoun told Enab Baladi, “I help everyone who asks me to do so, and I make sure that it takes place in the middle of the Hijri month, with moderate weather.”

The man recommends to the people who have had cupping not to exercise for a day before and after cupping, to eat dates, and not to deliver water to the wounds caused by the operation for three days to avoid infection.

Two types of cupping; Third with magnets

“The cupper,” Mohammad Ali, the owner of an Arab (Islamic) medicine center in Idlib, told Enab Baladi that cupping has two main types: dry and wet.

He explained that dry cupping uses what is known as air cups and places them on the site of pain in the patient’s body without wounding his skin.

Ali mentioned that it is useful in transferring toxins from the places of pain to the surface of the skin, and thus a large part of the pain disappears.

While wet cupping, in which the “cupper” injures the skin lightly and then places the cup on the site of the wounds and empties it of air by burning oxygen in it, then blood and toxic mixtures from the capillaries and small veins rush to the surface of the skin, due to the discharge caused by absorption, and therefore this is known as wet or bloody cupping.

The cups are left for about ten minutes, then the blood they have drawn is emptied, and the process is repeated according to the case, whether pathological or preventive.

Ali indicated that the cups must be replaced every time in order to ensure that they are sterilized and that diseases are not transmitted.

There are other types, such as magnetic cupping, and it is used in the treatment of many diseases and health problems, as it treats opposing joints with manual air cups.

Two cups are placed opposite each other, one negative and the other positive, provided that the magnet has a strong attraction, as it is placed inside the cup and fixed on the joint, which helps relieve pain.

Different fees, no license for cupping therapy centers 

Cupping fees vary according to its type and the area in which it is performed, as well as the number of cups that are used.

The cost of cupping starts from 100 to 300 Turkish liras, depending on the condition and the type of cupping, which is a price known among centers specialized in cupping.

Dr. Malham Ghazi, Director of the Hospitals Directorate of the Syrian Salvation Government (SSG) in Idlib, told Enab Baladi that there is currently no license for cupping centers spread in the governorate.

He explained that the number of centers is unknown and they are spreading widely, pointing out that the ministry will implement during the coming period procedures to organize the work of these centers and will work to license them with the establishment of training courses for workers in this field to be in accordance with health controls.

Medical perspective of cupping

Cupping Therapy (CT) has a wide audience, and it is considered one of the popular methods used to relieve pain and stimulate blood circulation, and according to a report by The US National Library of Medicine, cupping is an ancient method currently used in the treatment of a broad range of medical conditions.

“Six theories have been suggested to explain the effects produced by cupping therapy. Pain reduction and changes in biomechanical properties of the skin could be explained by “Pain-Gate Theory… like releasing of toxins and removal of wastes and heavy metals might be explained by “Blood Detoxification Theory.”

These theories may overlap or work interchangeably to produce various therapeutic effects in specific ailments and diseases, said the Health Institute.

“Apparently, no single theory exists to explain the whole effects of cupping. Further researches are needed to support or refute the aforesaid theories, and also develop innovative conceptualizations of (CT) in the future,” said the US institute.

The Library of Medicine also pointed out that one of the controversial opinions about cupping therapy is that it has a placebo effect only, indicating that this placebo theory will remain alive until a reliable and valid mechanism is discovered to explain the nature of its work.



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