Does fasting influence Hijama (cupping)?

Greetings, dear readers

Fasting. A practice that has taken many different forms, ranging from generalised water fasting to abstinence from specific foods such as meat and fish. Periods of fasting can span the length of a few hours whilst some last several days at a time. The duration of each individual fast is often dictated by its chosen purpose. For example, some people fast to detoxify their bodies whereas others do so to adhere to religious or health-related guidelines. Though methods may vary, fasting can be defined as an avoidance of food, and sometimes water, for select periods of time. This may seem like a process completely unrelated to Hijama (cupping). However, that assumption would be incorrect for a number of reasons.

Readers may have gathered by now that Hijama (cupping) is a treatment that generally involves the removal of waste from the body, during which a small amount of blood is often extracted too. Similarly to blood tests and blood donation, it has a relative physiological impact on the body and its systems. Unlike other blood work processes, this profound effect is what makes it such an effective treatment. Fasting, especially for a few hours, also has a distinct influence over bodily functions. Therefore, understanding how both affect the body is crucial knowledge for anyone planning to combine the two. Patients who have had a fasting blood test may be more familiar with the accompanying symptoms, such as dizziness, fatigue, headaches and occasionally even nausea.

Though it may not feel like it, all fasting comes to an end at some point (1)

When checking for health conditions such as diabetes or high cholesterol, doctors often prescribe fasting blood tests to their patients as a means of measuring the amount of glucose, lipids or other forms of fat in the body. During a certain period of time, the patient is advised to avoid eating and encouraged to drink plenty of water until a phlebotomist relieves them of the desired amount of blood. From this, Hijama (cupping) practitioners have deduced that eating before having cellular substances removed can influence the levels of glucose, lipids, iron and other digested nutrients in the blood vessels and significantly interfere with the state of a patient’s blood. If doing so can invalidate blood test results, it may be safe to assume that digested food would obstruct the flow of toxins or pathogens in the body too, making it more difficult for them to exit through small scratches in the skin.

blood test
Blood tests may sound scary but they’re not that bad. Provided you hydrate properly and give yourself time to adjust afterwards (2)

At Pure Therapy, we ask patients to avoid eating or drinking beverages for approximately three hours before their treatment with a second reason in mind. The human body increases blood flow to its digestive system via the superior mesenteric artery to help break down ingested food, resulting in less blood being carried to other bodily tissues. When deprived of food, the body becomes able to redirect blood from its digestive tract to other cellular structures, particularly areas in need of repairing. Fasting also enables the movement of cholesterol deposits that line the walls of blood vessels, allowing excess amounts to be removed along with other toxins during a Hijama (cupping) treatment. Hijama (cupping) practitioners are able to improve the effectiveness of their treatment plans by taking the aforementioned reasoning and the health of each patient into consideration.

There are a few arteries that supply blood to the gastrointestinal tract. The superior mesenteric artery is one of them (3)

Further clinical implications need to acknowledged when a patient’s fasting hours are extended. Some fast for as long as twelve or even sixteen hours. Others aim to detoxify their bodies by going on a water fast, during which they avoid consuming anything except water for periods of two to seven days. The water fasts of experienced people can last up to thirty days. Regardless of its purpose, Hijama (cupping) practitioners should be made aware if their patients are fasting so that they can monitor their overall condition. Despite its numerous long term benefits, fasting can reduce blood pressure and blood sugar levels, weakening the body for a short span of time and causing patients to be more prone to fainting during or after the treatment. Practitioners can avoid such adverse effects by using less cups than usual, treating the patient shortly before they break their fast or performing dry cupping instead of wet cupping.

We hope that this information has benefitted you, our dear readers, and we would love to hear from you. Comments, questions and weekly topic suggestions are always welcomed and greatly appreciated.

Thank you for reading!

The Pure Therapy Team

Images referenced from:

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