A comparison of Hijama (Cupping Therapy) with Chiropractic

A comparison of Hijama (Cupping Therapy) with Chiropractic

This is a guest-post in the form of a written interview with Dr Rizwhan Suleman MChiro – a male cupping therapist & chiropractor based in Cardiff, Wales.

– Please give us a short introduction about yourself, and in particular how you ended up being a hijama therapist?

My name is Rizwhan & I am a hijamah therapist & chiropractor.

I have practiced hijamah for over 2 years now and have just finished my chiropractic clinical practice year.

Through my study of medical science I gained a particular interest in learning and understanding the mechanisms of different human diseases and their treatment methods. I came to understand that many of the health benefits being uncovered by modern science had already been prescribed for us through the Sunnah of the prophet Muhammad (SAW).

On learning this I gained a thirst for knowledge on Islamic health. This led me to the practice of Hijamah and I became a student of a Palestinian brother named Mohammad who was a traditional practitioner of Hijamah therapy.

– For the benefit of our blog readers who may not be aware, can you please explain in simple terms what in the world Chiropractic is?! And (while we are on the subject), can you also explain what Osteopathy is (just to clear any confusion between the two)?!

Chiropractic simply means therapy with the use of hands- or better put “manual therapist”.

The basic origins of chiropractic arose from the understanding that the human body has an amazing ability to heal itself when it gets damaged. This ability is known as innate intelligence. It is believed that as the brain controls the function of every living cell in the body and that the communication of the brain to the body is through the spinal cord, the spine must therefore play a big role in the general health and overall well being of the body.

It is believed that very small mis-alignments in the spine can cause tension and pressure on the nerves which effect communication with the tissues, dimming down and altering the signals going to and from the brain, and eventually resulting in dysfunction and potentially disease.

Chiropractors aim to address the cause of the problem and therefore traditionally will often treat the spine when dealing with a variety of different conditions.

This is the basic Philosophy of Chiropractic however it has come a long way since its origin. Modern day chiropractors are educated to the same level as Medical Doctors studying anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, radiology, diagnosis and much more. It is a regulated profession and practitioners are given the title Doctor of Chiropractic once qualified.

Modern day chiropractic deals with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, especially the spine. They analyse the mechanics of your body looking for imbalances and problems that are causing your dysfunction and pain and treat the cause of the problem and not just the symptoms.

Chiropractors use joint manipulation (cracking joints) to encourage correct function, alignment and posture, soft tissue techniques to help restore muscle balance, joint mobilization techniques, dry needling, exercise and stretching techniques as well as nutritional and ergonomic advice. There is variety amongst practitioners but primarily chiropractors use as many non-invasive techniques as possible to promote healing and good health without the use of drugs and surgery. Chiropractors also co-manage patients before and after surgical procedures when they are deemed necessary to ensure the best possible outcomes.

As chiropractic is developing it is becoming more evidenced based and there is less emphasis on the philosophy that chiropractic originated from, however many chiropractors still treat non-biomechanical conditions and get astonishing results. There is new research that advocates this practice in some cases such as the treatment of asthma and further research is still being conducted.

Osteopathy, although born from a different philosophy to chiropractic is very similar. As both professions lean towards an evidence based approach and both use similar manual techniques to manage and treat biomechanical conditions, there is an inevitable degree of overlap and it is sometimes hard to distinguish between the two.

– As a hijama therapist and a chiropractor, what similarities have you observed between the two therapies?

From a Philosophical point of view there is a good degree of overlay. Chiropractors use observations, manual palpation and specific tests to find areas of dysfunction and inflammation in the spine that may be compromising the neural flow and therefore affecting the function of the body systems. This link between the spine and body systems has been long understood in the traditional practice of Hijamah therapy. The most important and most commonly used points for hijamah are on the back and lay in two rows either side of the ridges of the spine. Each one of the back points is situated almost precisely over the specific control centre of the nerve (para-vertebral sympathetic ganglion) that is related to its specific organ. Traditional Hijama therapists would use these points as diagnostic indicators by applying cups to all the areas and looking for signs of inflammation or stagnation indicating problems in that corresponding organ and then treat that site accordingly. Similarly traditional chiropractors would use their skills to detect these similar points of inflammation or irritation and treat that site/joint accordingly. In both views the back is seen as a mirror of the internal organs.

From a basic biomechanical point of view I also see some other similarities. The venous drainage system of the spine is quite unique in that it lacks valves meaning it is not as easy for venous blood (or bad blood) to drain back to the heart preventing fresh blood from providing nutrients and ridding waste. This deep venous network is linked with the superficial venous drainage allowing the low pressure of hijamah to draw out “the bad blood” from deep within the spine enabling the nervous system to be cleansed of waste & then nourished with the fresh supply of blood. Similarly when a chiropractic adjustment (joint manipulation) is performed it provides a specific spinal segmental joint with a quick thrust, moving the joint into its end range of motion. This focused motion encourages the movement of fluids chemicals and nourishment in that area encouraging the natural flow of nourishment and waste removal. This in my personal view is why both methods are effective in the treatment of back problems as this process is ever more important if tissues in the area have previously been injured/inflamed.

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

Given that biomechanics is my field I could say that when it comes to hijamah musculoskeletal conditions would be my forte however I have treated a variety of conditions ranging from the standard back, neck, knee and joint aches/pains, muscular sprains and strains to insomnia, asthma, headaches, migraines, skin conditions, concentration problems, lethargy, high blood pressure and allergies.

I am more than happy to treat conditions that make sense to me medically however when there is a patient that presents to me with a condition that according to my understanding would not logically benefit from hijamah I discuss this with them. If the patient is happy to continue than I put my trust in Allah and the Sunnah and am usually willing to give it a try taking detailed notes of the progress in order to learn from the experience. As long as there is nothing contraindicating treatment I am willing to treat all the conditions that traditional hijamah therapy claims to be able to treat and simply follow the guidelines of corresponding points to corresponding conditions.

– 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?

I have found that musculoskeletal problems respond very well to treatment and I incorporate hijamah therapy with all my other manual therapy techniques to provide the best possible outcome for the patient with the most suited treatment options. Non-mechanical problems such as migraines and headaches also respond very well. In one case a severely chronic migraine sufferer noticed a 90% reduction in symptoms and frequency after only one treatment.

When treating from a traditional perspective I have had a variety of results. In cases where I have treated the same complaint on a number of different patients I have found no great consistency, however I have had some very good results in some of the patients. The one condition that stands out the most with success rates is asthma. There has been a consistent reduction in symptoms in all patients that I have treated for this. For skin conditions there has been a mixed response however the treatment numbers have been very limited, with no one person undergoing more than two treatments. For insomnia two out of two patients reported a good standard of sleep from the same night after treatment and both have reported lasting results however both receive monthly treatments. General reports from patients indicate improved concentration, reading ability and energy levels. At this stage in my experience I could not say what works and what does not but I hope that this information is beneficial in some way.

– 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?)

I do believe that hijamah can be used as a preventative therapy however I have no real basis to make an opinion on how often the treatments should be implemented. I would say at least twice a year would be advisable due to the immune boosting effects and the general benefits overall however I think this could be different from person to person.

– Finally, as a hijama therapist, 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)?

My wife has administered the treatment on me a number of times for general muscle tightness and my sister also applied cups on my head for a one off migraine that I suffered.

Dr Rizwhan Suleman


Email: rizwhan_s@hotmail.com

Our thanks to Dr Rizwhan Suleman from Cardiff, Wales for sharing the above post. If you have any questions for Dr Suleman 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 contact us.

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


Comments: 8

  1. Posted by Anonymous 05 May 2009 at 11:05 am Reply

    Iam a newly diagnosed parkinson patient and loosing weight rapidly.Should I go for hijamah.

  2. Posted by Tyrell Dando 05 May 2009 at 3:12 pm Reply

    I have taken part in Dr Suleman’s Hijama treatment process more than once and for a variety of different ailments. As an active person with a relatively good diet and healthy lifestyle I found myself having regular colds and so I looked to hijama. On completion of two treatments I found that not only was my energy levels up and my focus increased but I have found that I have not suffered a cold since.

    As a boxer it is important to be light on your feet and I found that after having the hijama treatment on both knees it gave me greater mobility. The effect of the hijama treatment on my knees lasted for up to several days and nights. I have friends who have had the treatment on the same places for the same reasons but with different results. Thus many different body types act differently just as with traditional medicine. I have not found there to be any negative side affects since having the treatment as of yet. This of course gives me confidence to look to hijama over certain prescribed medicines of which may contain many negative side effects.

    Yours Kindly

    Tyrell Dando

  3. Posted by Umm Husamuddin 05 May 2009 at 4:43 pm Reply

    Assalaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu

    MashaAllaah a very informative and articulate article.

    Umm Husamuddin.

  4. Posted by Rizwhan 05 May 2009 at 7:36 pm Reply

    Re: “Assalomoalaikum,
    Iam a newly diagnosed parkinson patient and loosing weight rapidly.Should I go for hijamah.”


    Please email me directly: rizwhan_s@hotmail.com

  5. Posted by Qasim Inayat. 06 May 2009 at 5:42 am Reply

    I have received treatment from Dr Suleman for my back pain on numerous occasions. The treatment has taken the form of chiropractic alone, hijama alone and also both the methods combined. Alhumdulilah in my case Allah has made Dr Suleman a means for his shifa. What I found that worked best for me is the soft tissue work and then hijama combined with regular stretching of my muscles. I am a great fan of hijama and would not hesitate to visit Dr suleman for hijama treatment for any aches, pains, diseases or ailments and I always strongly encourage my friends and family to do so also. I will end by relaying the answer of a Palestinian hijama practioner when he was asked how hijama makes people feel afterwards. . . “alhumdulilah, as strong as a horse”.


  6. Posted by Anonymous 07 May 2009 at 1:46 pm Reply

    Assalam aleikum

    Do you think hijamah would be of benefit for someone who has Multiple Sclerosis?

    Very informative

  7. Posted by Rizwhan 08 May 2009 at 2:36 pm Reply


    The true cause of M.S is unknown and there is no known cure. The medication used in its treatment is limited. It is thought to be an autoimmune disease. Stress has also been linked to relapse frequency.

    Hijama is believed to improve immune regulation and can have stress relieving properties. Although I have not treated M.S I have treated people with immune deficiencies with good results.

    As long as there are no contraindications for treatment hijamah is worth considering. (cups should not be applied over areas with reduced sensation). Other avenues such as diet and exercise therapies (such as Tai Chi) should also be explored.

    Allah knows best.

    The Messenger (SAW) said, “Whoever performs cupping (hijamah) on the 17th, 19th or 21st day (of the Islamic, lunar month) then it is a cure for every disease.” Saheeh Sunan abi Dawud (3861)

  8. Posted by mrs shameela shariq 15 Jul 2014 at 5:30 pm Reply

    My son age 6 diagnosed by MD ..muscular dystrophy is there any cure for his ailment in tub e nabwi…plz reply soon.

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