London is home to many communities who have brought their customs from around the world, and each of them have something unique to offer. Whether it be cuisine, fashion or music, they all contribute towards the multicultural tapestry that is our society.
These communities have also made us aware of certain medicinal and therapeutic practices from different parts of the globe. Some of these practices have proven to help our bodies function and improve overall health for centuries, if not millenia, as they date back to long before the invention of modern medicine.
One of these practices is called Hijama, or blood cupping. It is an ancient form of therapy that involves placing suction cups on the body that create a vacuum and somehow draw blood clots and toxins out of the capillaries. Small incisions are then made to allow the ‘bad blood’ to exit the body.
The practice is particularly popular among Muslim communities in London, especially for those who come from South and Southeast Asia. Bangladeshis make up a large proportion of that demographic, and they have long set up communities in parts of East London where they practice their customs freely and confidently.
READ MORE: London’s oldest mosque hidden in the front room of a Camden flat
So it only makes sense that Mizanur Rahman, who has been living in London since moving from Bangladesh with his family over 10 years ago, set up his clinic in Manor Park, Newham, not far from East Ham tube station.
Mizanur has only been practicing Hijama for a year, having gained a certified qualification to implement the therapy two years ago. Both he and his wife run the As-Sunnah Hijama Clinic from their home in Romford Road, although Mizanur says this is only temporary as their real clinic was damaged in a fire.
However, Mizanur can only take a few patients at a time, as he is actually an NHS employee. He is a busy man, working and raising his family, but when he does receive a patient, he takes time to properly address their needs.
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The first thing Mizanur does before administering the therapy is take his patients through a questionnaire about their overall health, diet, lifestyle and allergies. He does this to ensure they get the right treatment in the right way.
He then talks them through the procedure, how it’s done and the benefits it has. As well as being a religious man, Mizanur holds a Master’s degree in Science from Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, so he explains the therapy from both a spiritual and secular perspective.
He sees the example the Prophet Muhammad set in his lifestyle and diet as going hand in hand with modern nutritional advice, and underlines that undergoing Hijama alone will not solve all your health woes. He outlines a number of lifestyle changes one should make to ensure they remain healthy, starting with what and how much one eats.
Mizanur recommends natural sugars and fat as opposed to carbohydrates, olive and sesame oil as opposed to vegetable oil, and pink Himalayan salt instead of white salt. For breakfast, he says he eats half an avocado, two fried eggs and yogurt.
(Image: Google Maps)
After the advice session that lasts around half an hour, Mizanur then proceeds to begin the Hijama process, which starts with him placing a suction cup on your back or an afflicted area and moving it around to create the feeling of being massaged.
He does this while playing an audio recording of the Qur’an in the background. Doing this serves two functions. Firstly, the melodious recitation of the Qur’an is supposed to be soothing and relaxing. Secondly, the recitation is meant to ward off evil spirits, or jinns.
I went for the general treatment, which included the placement of eight suction cups on different parts of my back. The suction sucks up the skin, resulting in little red bumps appearing. There is a little pain involved, but believe me, it looks a lot worse than it actually feels. On that note, those with a weak stomach might want to look away from the pictures below.
(Image: Ertan Karpazli / MyLondon)
After leaving the cups on for about 15 minutes, Mizanur then removes the cups and makes several tiny incisions on the bumps using a disposable blade. The blades are used one time only and are disinfected before and after use.
Mizanur then places the cups back on the bumps in order to suck the blood out of them. Again he leaves the cups in place for around 15 minutes as he allows the ‘bad blood’ to ooze out through the incisions. The amount of pain one feels from this really depends on their threshold, but I can honestly say it was no more painful than a visit to the dentist.
The cups are then removed and the ‘bad blood’ is scooped up into them. The blood that comes out isn’t at all runny or watery like regular blood, it’s more thick, sticky and jelly-like. That, Mizanur says, is the result of the tiny blood clots in your body coming out all at once, leaving only the ‘good blood’ behind.
(Image: Ertan Karpazli / MyLondon)
Mizanur then disinfects your skin to make sure that you don’t catch an infection, which is probably the most painful part of the procedure but is over in seconds. He then asks you to gradually sit up as some patients can feel a bit of light-headedness at this stage.
After sitting you down for a minute, Mizanur then says you are free to put your top back on, as the incisions on your back literally heal up straight away.
Before sending you home, Mizanur advises that you avoid red meat and dairy for two days and to only use water when washing to ensure that you get the full benefit of the therapy. Among those benefits, Mizanur says, is better blood circulation and blood pressure, which is the cause of so many illnesses in the body.
(Image: Ertan Karpazli / MyLondon)
By undergoing Hijama regularly and by sticking to the dietary examples that were taught by the Prophet Muhammad over 1,400 years ago, Mizanur argues we can prevent almost all forms of illness and diseases that plague our society today.
I’m no science expert to doubt Mizanur’s advice, but I left As-Sunnah Hijama Clinic feeling great. I felt fresh, energised and clear, at least until I got home and stuffed my face with everything he told me not to eat. Overall, I’d say £50 well-spent.
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