Cupping, called Hijama by the Muslims, is the application of suction cups to the skin to draw out stagnant, congested blood and Vital Force, as well as other stagnant or morbid humors. Usually, the cups are made of glass, but they can also be made of bamboo, bone, horn or metal.
The classical method for creating suction in the cup is to use fire to consume the air within it. But more recently, squeezable cups with a rubber top, or cups drained by suction pumps are also used.
Cupping may be done either wet or dry. Dry cupping is simply placing the suction cups on the skin. Wet cupping, or Scarification and Cupping, is a form of bloodletting that involves first making an incision on the skin, then applying the suction cups to suck out small amounts of blood
Cupping therapy is an incredibly ancient and universal practice that spans both East and West. In the primitive shamanistic practices of all the world’s indigenous peoples, there were certain shamans who specialized in the sucking out of illness and infirmity from the body.
In the West, cupping therapy had its birth in Egypt. The Ebers Papyrus, written around 1550 B.C.E., states that bleeding by wet cupping removes foreign matter from the body. In cupping, the ancient Egyptians saw the remedy for just about every disorder.
The ancient Egyptians passed the art of cupping on to the ancient Greeks. Both Hippocrates and Galen were staunch advocates and users of cupping therapy. Galen once condemned Erasistratus, a noted physician in Alexandria, for not using cupping.