Last Updated on April 23, 2022
I went for wet acu cupping, also known in Malay as berkam or bekam treatment (in Arabic it is known as Hijama) to treat my persistent neck, back and lower back pain. It has been quite an experience and I wanted to share with you the benefits of this alternative treatment.
When I first looked up- initially I was searching about acucupping in YouTube and came across berkam. If you watch the videos in YouTube on berkam/ bekam, it can look quite scarry. But in reality, when the needle is being poked, it felt nothing more than an ant bite.
I’ve explored various treatment when it comes to chronic pain management- Thai healing massage, rattan beating, acupuncture (effective for acute pain), Chinese medicine, cane exercise, tuina….each has its advantage….there was still something that had to be done in order for other treatments to be effective.
Lifestyle, stress, negative emotions, injuries, diet, drinking cold water, taking baths right after exercise, etc can create blockages within meridian channels in our body. These blockages remains within and for many cases, has been around for years and it is very hard to remove. Having too much of toxin, cholesterol and blockages within our systems causes various health symptoms such as headaches, pain (acute or chronic), arthritis, gout, postural imbalances and even cholesterol and stroke.
Bekam or wet cupping is a very good Malay traditional therapy that has one to directly expel the toxins or ‘dirty blood’ by first using acu cups to create sunction, followed by pricking the points with a specialised bekam needle and putting in the cups back on again. The vacuum created in the acucups would then suck up toxic blood, gel-like substance and clots.
Above: It is not taken at the treatment center but it is a picture from the web that shows how blood acucupping is performed.
My experience in wet acu cupping (berkam)
I found out about this company through a Google ad and decided to give it a try. Somehow, I had been feeling unwell and I instinctively felt that I should resort to more stronger treatments that physically remove the toxins in my body. When I walked very far or carry my backpack (it was not heavy) and started developing neck and shoulder pain, I knew I had to try acucupping and the wet acucupping would be more effective.
Note: The contraindication for ladies is that you cannot go for this treatment when you are having menstruation or period.
In Malaysia, if you wish to search – and you use acucupping, you would find a lot of very commercialised business and massage spas offering these treatments. If you wish to go for traditional Malay treatment, you need to use the word “rawatan bekam” or “berkam cupping“. Even if you wish to buy acu cups, you also use these terms as you would able to find many who are selling the acucups for very reasonable price so that you can buy back and use on yourself and your family at home.
Some of the guidelines to follow:
- before going to any berkam treatment, must always ask for the price. Some who simple go to shops were charged RM600, RM1000 for treatment (my friend was actually charged RM600 for berkam treatment). As updated in the website, they charge RM5 per cup placed on the body
- ensure the person uses new and sterilized needles for each person. Means no sharing of needles due to dangers from infection, HIV
- the acucups must be properly cleaned and sterilized- I was showed by the owners how the acucups are cleaned and then sterilized using UV light to prevent spread of tibi and other illness from one patient to another
- the treatment is not simply done but it is at specific location and only blood that are toxic are being drawn out- and it is not causing our body to be losing blood.
Before me there was a Chinese senior man who went for treatment for what looked like swelling from gout on his legs. And another boy who was undergoing resdung (where he had a lot of phlegm coming out from his nose)- resdung is also a very effective treatment for sinus, headaches and throat problems (I was told singers go for this treatment to improve the quality of their voice).
They have a room for ladies which is located at the end. I was told to change to a sarong and lie on the treatment bed. For first time, it is recommended that the whole body treatment to be performed – from neck, back and down to the calves. In total it would require 24 cups which would come up to RM120. The pricing is fair because I heard other place charge RM15 for a cup.
First, cups are placed on various points for sunction- and I was told to relax. Then the lady informed me she would be needling – each area 8 pricks. When she prick it was not painful- it just felt like ant bite. After she complete all, the cups remained for about 20 minutes before they were taken off one by one.
During the treatment, she informed me that my upper and middle back had lots of toxins and clot blood as well as my legs. She also mentioned I had a lot of wind in my body (badan banyak angin). My lower back, which had given me discomfort, was surprisingly minor in issue. She told me that sometimes, even though we feel discomfort and pain at one area, but the source can origin from another.
As she removed each cups, she showed me the blood and clots and explained to me what they meant. Fortunately my blood was not black but red (she said the black ones- like in some videos signify high level of toxicity in the body).
But, from my upper and middle back, I saw that a lot of gel like substance in my blood stream- she told me it consist of cholesterol and other toxic items. She showed me that these items are different from frozen blood- if it only consist of blood, and you press it, it will smear the tissue and the physical substance cannot be seen. Whereas, the ones which was extracted from my body via acucupping- it was gel like and she press and still they were there. A lot of it was cholesterol. The part that had these substance were the problematic areas.
Years ago, I’ve heard that people get heart attacks and stroke due to blockages on their shoulders and neck areas – with these clots it affects blood flow. If one were to complement this with one’s existing conventional treatment….it would be so much more effective because wet acucupping really physically help to remove these items.
And when she took out the cups from my lower back/kidney area- she said there were very little blood and clots so she said the area is not the source of the problem. According to her, it could be because my upper back was blocked resulting oxygen and blood flow could not flow down. She also said my legs (both above and below the knees) both had lots of clots as well. This perhaps had caused my legs had not much of energy to move.
After the treatment, I was told not to sleep within 1 hour. Wait for 1 hour first before resting. Then after 1 hour resting, then take a shower (total have to wait for 2 hours before taking a shower). No heavy physical activity for first time bekam users as it may cause the body to go into shock and develop fever….means take it easy after treatment.
I also bought 2 sets of acu cups (with vacuum sunction) for RM15 each. They explained and got me to try to use the acu cups to ensure I know how to use before buying. They also give me these precautions:
- apply some oil at cupping area- use like baby oil or olive oil (minyak zaitun). Strictly no using massage oil (minyak urut or minyak angin tak boleh).
- do not use at the folds of the elbows and knees and directly on the joints as it may cause ‘lendir bergerak’ ….if I am not mistaken should be movement of cartileges. If placed directly on top of the lower back bone it may cause slip disk due to the sunction alters the movement of cartilage
- Keep it at most for 15 minutes. Strictly not more than that as it could cause the skin to break- causing pain- he said use a timer to ensure do not exceed the time. He said one person had thought the longer it is used the better but ended up had to go to hospital
- wait for 2 hours before bathing since the pores are opened up
After the treatment, I felt my neck and shoulder pain gone and my legs more nimble (instead of always having that heavy feeling). The heavy feeling around my chest also feels lifted- that is why I believe this treatment is a very good preventive for heart attacks and cholesterol for those prone to it.
Give it a try….it should not replace your current treatment but complimentary to the existing treatment that you are receiving. May you get well soon!
Excellent post about your experience with Hijama, let us know if you decide to go for this treatment again…
Anybody who claims that there are medical benefits to this, is either a sucker or a fraud.
There is no clinical evidence that supports wet cupping to be anything but a waste of time.
It might be fun to believe this kind of stuff, and heck, it is your money, but nope… it is complete horse shit.
Hi Little Timmy,
Thanks for your thoughts about this treatment. Yes, I agree it sounds very controversial. But I can assure you it is not a waste of time. I realize many others may have the same sentiments as you hence I have written a post to address it below: https://healthblog.yinteing.com/2019/08/05/critique-wet-acucupping-bekam-treatment-method/