Saudi Ministry Of Health Prohibits Blood Cupping

Posted Apr 17, 2007 by Carolyn E. Price

Saudi Arabia's Ministry of Health has decided to end the practice of blood cupping until there is documented scientific evidence of its usefulness.
The Ministry of Health in Saudi Arabia has mandated that the practice of blood cupping, also known as hijama in Arabic, be stopped until there is documented scientific evidence of its usefulness. This now ends one of the oldest medical traditions in the Arab world - and puts many traditional healers out of work.
"[We] ask people to focus on modern medicine, based on the evidence," said Othman Al-Rabiah, coordinator of the Health Services Council.
Many specialist clinics were performing blood cupping until this ruling came into effect. Cupping is when blood is extracted from the skin through a small cut and then a cup is attached to the skin that makes a tight seal on it.
"I have practiced this job for 20 years," said Ali Mejahed, a Yemeni cupping maker. "I have customers, and if they want me they can phone me."
Clinic workers are said to be startled and are quite angry about this decision. They say that the Ministry wasn't forthcoming with cuppers about their intentions.
"The Ministry of Health ... promised to give us the green light to practice cupping again after they make new arrangements to organize it, but we were surprised when they prevented it entirely," said one cupper, who requested anonymity.
In a show of defiance against the Ministry, some hospitals cupping clinics are staying open because they don't believe in the ruling.
"This is not right ... most of the people received benefits from cupping," the owner of one Jeddah hospital, who requested anonymity, said. "We have opened the cupping clinic in our hospital because we know how beneficial it is. Also, the prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, asked his nation to do it."
Some regular cuppers say that getting cupped has become a habit from which they receive great benefit and they are willing to flout the law to continue to do it. "I had a headache, and I visited many hospitals and many doctors ... but I didn't feel better," a cupper known only as "Yousif" said. "One of my friends advised me to do cupping ... and for SR200, including materials I bought at the pharmacy, the man did cupping for me, and since then I've felt much better."
And, 3, 2, 1 ....