Hijama (cupping) and Negative Pressure: The Pump VS The Fire Method

Greetings, dear readers

There are slight differences in the method of Hijama application which vary from one practitioner to the next. These variations can range from the types of cups and blades that are used, the cutting techniques of individual practitioners and the use of a plastic pump or the “fire” method. Some patients may prefer one method over another for comfort or religious reasons. We plan to go into more detail about this at a later date. In this post, we will be discussing some benefits of using a plastic pump to apply cups and why we at Pure Therapy have chosen this way over the fire method.

Fire cupping (1)

To understand how each kind of application differs, we must first explain what this negative pressure or “suction”, caused by the pump or the fire, actually is. To put it simply, it is the opposite of normal pressure. Usually, the word pressure brings to mind the idea of a downward force pressing upon a surface. Examples of this force being used in a therapeutic setting include professional massages and acupressure.

Negative pressure applied to skin (2)

Negative pressure is the reverse of normal pressure, meaning that instead of being a force which pushes down on a surface, it pulls it up instead. This is what occurs beneath the cup during the application of Hijama. The skin is lifted up instead of being pressed down. The practice of dry cupping comprises solely of this pressure and its effects, as the incisions or “scratches” are not made.

Moving onto the effects of suctioning the skin, it is important to note that while most human bodies respond in the same way, some people may be prone to over reacting. This can cause the skin to form blisters, become scarred or discolour faster or for much longer than normal. Others can react in the opposite manner. For example, their skin may not change colour under the cup to the same extent or perhaps not as fast as some people. They may also need firmer scratches in order for the toxins to flow into the cup, depending on their skin type.

Hijama marks (3)

Some effects of negative pressure upon skin are:

  • The creation of a vacuum or “space” beneath first layers of skin, which acts as a vent for internal pressure and aids lymphatic drainage
  • The separation of layers within the body such as tissues, muscles and fascia, thus facilitating the removal of trigger points or “knots”
  • The stretching of the skin cells to induce the production of pain relieving chemicals such as endorphins and other agents which inhibit pain
  • And the drawing of oxygen and nutrient filled blood cells to the tissues beneath the cup and the surrounding areas

Both the pumping and fire method affect the body of the patient in the aforementioned ways. However, there are also a number of significant differences. The most potentially damaging effect of the fire method is linked to the strength of suction applied by it. When using the plastic pump and cups, the suction strength can be increased or decreased according to the comfort of the patient and the judgement of the practitioner. Whereas with the fire method, which involves the use of glass cup and balls of cotton wool set alight, the strength of the negative pressure being applied cannot be adjusted once the cup has been placed upon the skin.

Strength of Hijama suction (4)

By not being able to control it, the practitioner risks treating the skin of the patient harshly, resulting in it needing longer to heal. Elderly patients and those with sensitive skin or diseases which cause poor healing may suffer permanent damage to the surface of their skin. By using controlled suction, the practitioner can reduce this risk considerably.

Another factor that has influenced our decision to use the pumping method is the slight complexity of the other method. Hijama application via the use of fire requires the practitioner to have their blades, multiple cotton wool balls and flammable liquid at hand, as well as tongs to grip the burning cotton and the speed to make use of their technique. The cups used during fire cupping are normally made from glass, which would need to be thoroughly sterilised in between sessions. This would take a considerable amount of time and effort to maintain. In comparison, the only instruments used by practitioners of the other method are disposable cups and blades, which are thrown away immediately after being used, with the addition of a single pump that is disinfected in between patients


Fire cupping instruments (5)

Due to the reasons mentioned above, we at Pure Therapy use plastic pumps and cups instead of the instruments needed by those who apply Hijama with fire. Though both kinds of application have similar effects on the body, the differences between the two can have a significant impact on both the skin and the satisfaction of our patients.

We hope that this information has benefitted you, our dear readers.

Thank you for reading!

The Pure Therapy Team

Images referenced from:
(1) http://cupping.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/fire_cupping1.jpg
(2) http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-_sjN4ui98Q0/UUvic9ffY4I/AAAAAAAAANs/_UjwTbHRcBs/s1600/Cupping2.jpg
(3) https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/9e/95/1e/9e951eb9fc3a949e8da98dc86d5c88e0.jpg
(4) http://www.esciencecentral.org/journals/AIMimages/2327-5162-2-122-g001b.gif (altered)
(5) http://www.acupuncture-points.org/images/261xNxFire_cups_tray_b4.jpg.pagespeed.ic.r9Kz-T7TJZ.jpg

One thought on “Hijama (cupping) and Negative Pressure: The Pump VS The Fire Method

  1. You are completely in ERROR!
    Fire takes away the oxygen and there is a considerable less danger or bacteria entering the lower layer of the skin. This is just one reason fire cupping is the original and the best way!


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