Background: Bloodletting cupping therapy (Hijama) is a traditional alternative medicine practiced in different cultures. Claims about the therapeutic efficacy of Hijama in hypertension are contradictory. The aim of this project was to determine if Hijama therapy is beneficial in the treatment of patients with hypertension.
Materials and methods: In this retrospective study, 60 files for patients treated for hypertension, aged 40-60 years and whose systolic blood pressure (SBP) is at least 140mm Hg, were used. The data from 30 patient files were obtained from three licensed Hijama centers (study group), whereas data from the rest of 30 patient files were collected from a hospital (control group). The data from Hijama centers included age, date of Hijama therapy, and blood pressure measured before each Hijama session. Both diastolic blood pressure (DBP) and SBP data were obtained over 3-month period.
Results: The results showed a significant reduction in SBP (P value < 0.01) over three sessions of wet cupping (from 149.2 to 130.8mm Hg), but this was not significant for DBP over three sessions (P = 0.074). The study also found that the mean SBP in the study group was 9.6mm Hg less than that in the control group (130.8 vs. 140.4mm Hg, P = 0.019), whereas there was no significant difference in DBP between the study group and the control group (87.0 vs. 86.0mm Hg, P = 0.75).
Conclusions: Our study shows clear relationship between Hijama and the reduction and control of SBP in patients with hypertension. Therefore, Hijama can be used as an adjunct to conventional therapy, which may allow downtitration of given doses of antihypertensive drugs. The possible association of SBP reduction by Hijama and pain reduction needs an investigation.
Keywords: Bloodletting cupping therapy; Hijama; diastolic blood pressure; hypertension; retrospective; systolic blood pressure.