Effects of wet-cupping on blood pressure in hypertensive patients: a randomized controlled trial

J Integr Med. 2015 Nov;13(6):391-9. doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(15)60197-2.


Background: Although cupping remains a popular treatment modality worldwide, its efficacy for most diseases, including hypertension, has not been scientifically evaluated.

Objective: We aimed to determine the efficacy of wet-cupping for high blood pressure, and the incidence of the procedure's side effects in the intervention group.

Design, setting, participants and interventions: This is a randomized controlled trial conducted in the General Practice Department at King Abdulaziz University Hospital, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, between May 2013 and February 2014. There were two groups (40 participants each): intervention group undergoing wet-cupping (hijama) in addition to conventional hypertension treatment, and a control group undergoing only conventional hypertension treatment. Three wet-cupping sessions were performed every other day.

Main outcome measure: The mean systolic and diastolic blood pressures were measured using a validated automatic sphygmomanometer. The follow-up period was 8 weeks.

Results: Wet-cupping provided an immediate reduction of systolic blood pressure. After 4 weeks of follow-up, the mean systolic blood pressure in the intervention group was 8.4 mmHg less than in the control group (P=0.046). After 8 weeks, there were no significant differences in blood pressures between the intervention and control groups. In this study, wet-cupping did not result in any serious side effects.

Conclusion: Wet-cupping therapy is effective for reducing systolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients for up to 4 weeks, without serious side effects. Wet-cupping should be considered as a complementary hypertension treatment, and further studies are needed.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier NCT01987583.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Complementary Therapies* / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT01987583