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Ancient Healing Technique Gains New Popularity in Iraq

ition to just aches and pains, the technique has been prescribed for fevers and disorders of the inner organs, including liver, stomach, intestines and kidneys and has a firm position on the Western alternative medicine scene.

"The percentage of those who recover is very high, especially those who have diseases of the heart and arteries, as well as diabetes," said Hajam, who sees up to 30 patients a day.

At first, Hajam asks the patient where it hurts and then places his cup on the spot, sucks out the air, and leaves it for a few minutes, before removing the cup. He then makes a number of small cuts, replaces the cup and once again sucks out the air, bleeding the wound for several minutes before sterilizing and bandaging the spot.

The back is the most common areas to be cupped, because the "blood stream is slow there and a continuous bleeding is ruled out, furthermore it is less sensitive than other areas," Hajam explained. "Prophet Mohammed himself used hijama. It is for many diseases, from headache to arthritis and sciatica, even for sterility for men and women," he added.

The technique was also traditionally used by the historic pearl divers of the Gulf to prevent diseases before they embarked on their three-month-long pearling expeditions out at sea. "I sought out many physicians but they were all useless, so I decided to try this," said Abu Tareq, 56, now one of Hajam's regulars. "I feel energetic and revived now and will continue doing it."

Mushtaq Razzaq, 20, said it was his uncle who turned him on to the technique. "Before I was always sluggish for no apparent reason, but now I feel this wonderful change come over my body," he said.


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