Spiritual and Religious Healing Practices: Some Reflections from Saudi National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Riyadh
Traditional practices constituting spiritual and religious (S/R) healing are an important component of the holistic healthcare model and are used in health, well-being, and treating a variety of diseases around the world. The main focus of this review is to summarize the Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) studies that especially target S/R healing practices in Saudi Arabia (SA) and discuss the results in light of relevant international literature. From year 2013–2017, electronic searches of PubMed, OvidSP, Google Scholar, and two publishing housing Web sites (Sciencedomain.com and Dove Medical Press.com) were made using key words and Boolean operators and retrieved thousands of published papers from peer-reviewed journals. Two independent reviewers decided to include a total of 108 articles: 48 from SA and 60 from other international literature. The sociodemographic variables of the participants varied in local studies and were comparable with international data. The frequency and types of religious and spiritual practices reported in local and international zones varied in accordance with religious belief, gender, age, education, and prevalent chronic diseases. Most of professionals and practitioners showed fairly good knowledge and positive attitude toward spiritual and religious practices used in diverse clinical and non-clinical situations across the world. Furthermore, it was observed that in the international scenario, S/R researches using specific religious screening tools have been conducted on different aspects of clinical application including self-care, social cohesion, negative impact, and child development, whereas regional studies targeting varied participants mainly focused on the epidemiological trends of S/R therapies in Saudi Arabia. CAM practitioners and public tend to show great interest in prescribed and self-use of religious and spiritual therapies across the world because of multiple dynamic forces, including positive effects on health, sense of well-being and disease control, cost-effectiveness, easy access to services, and improvement in quality of life. Further studies are needed to assess the effectiveness of different types of religious and spiritual therapies and practices used in specific diseases, their role in promotion of health and well-being, and prevention of diseases nationwide and across the world. Besides integration of S/R into mainstream treatment modalities, medical education curriculum, continuous medical education, and training programs are needed for bridging the knowledge, attitude, and practice gaps concerning CAM in targeted population groups such as medical professionals, CAM practitioners, medical students, public and traditional healers, not only in SA but also around the world.
KeywordsComplementary and alternative medicine Traditional practices Spiritual and religious therapies Epidemiological trends
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
No conflicts of interest exist in this work.
- Abunab, H. Y., Dator, W. L., Salvador, J. T., Lacanaria, M. G. (2017). Solitude, religious and cultural uniqueness in a foreign environment: Adjustments as an Arab Student. Journal Religion Health 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-017-0425-x.
- Ahmad, R., Naqvi, A. A., Ahmad, N., Baraka, M., Mastour, M., Al Sharedah, S., et al. (2017b). Awareness, perception, attitude, and knowledge regarding complementary and alternative medicines (cams) among the pharmacy and medical students of a public university in Saudi Arabia. Archives of Pharmacy Practice, 8, 51–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ahmedi, M., & Siddiqui, M. R. (2014). The value of wet cupping as a therapy in modern medicine—An Islamic Perspective. WebmedCentral Alternative Medicine, 5(12), WMC004785.Google Scholar
- Al Jaouni, S. K., El-Fiky, E. A., Mourad, S. A., Ibrahim, N. K., Kaki, A. M., Rohaiem, S. M., et al. (2017). The effect of wet cupping on quality of life of adult patients with chronic medical conditions in King Abdulaziz University Hospital. Saudi Medical Journal, 38(1), 53–62.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Al Mansour, M. A., Mohammad, E. Y., Abdalla, S., Medani, K., Mahmoud, W., & Meraj, S. (2015). Satisfaction, self-use and perception of medical students in Majmaah University, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, towards complementary and alternative medicine. Journal Taibah University Medical Sciences, 10(1), 74–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Al-Bedah, A. M., Aboushanab, T. S., Alqaed, M. S., Qureshi, N. A., Elsubai, I., El-Olemy, A. T., et al. (2017a). Assessing the effectiveness of using simulation in cupping therapy training course for undergraduate medical students. A study in Riyadh KSA. Journal of Advances in Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 13(2), 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Al-Bedah, A. M., & El-Olemy, A. T. (2011). Perception of health professionals and policy makers about complementary and alternative medicine in Saudi Arabia. The Egyptian Journal Community Medicine, 29(2), 39–52.Google Scholar
- Al-Bedah, A. M., Elsubai, I. S., Qureshi, N. A., Abushanab, T. S., El-Olemy, A. T., Khalil, A. A., Khalil, M., Alqaed, M. A. (2018). Modern medicine perspective of Cupping therapy (Hijama) effects and related mechanisms of action: A narrative review of literature. Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jtcme.2018.03.003.
- Al-Bedah, A. M., Khalil, M., ElOlemy, A., Hussein, A. A., AlQaed, M., AlMudaiheem, A., et al. (2015). The use of wet cupping for persistent non-specific low back pain: Randomized controlled clinical trial. Journal of Alternative Complementary Medicine, 21(8), 504–508. (PMID 26069973).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Al-Bedah, A. M., Khalil, M. K., Posadzki, P., Sohaibani, I., Aboushanab, T. S., AlQaed, M., et al. (2016b). Evaluation of wet cupping therapy: Systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Journal Alternative Complementary Medicine, 22(10), 768–777. (PubMed PMID: 27557333).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Al-Bedah, A. M., Saigul, A., Dughaim, M., Elsubai, I. S., Qureshi, N. A., Abushanab, T. S., et al. (2017c). Current Status of Traditional and Complementary Medicine use in Qassim Province, Saudi Arabia. Journal Complementary Medicine and Research, 4, 1–10. https://doi.org/10.9734/JOCAMR/2017/36711.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Al-Bedah, A. M., Shaban, T., Alqaed, M. A., Qureshi, N. A., Basahi, J. A., El-Olemy, A. T., et al. (2016c). The use of medical simulation in Cupping Therapy Training: A novel idea from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medical Research, 1(3), 1–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Al-Binali, A. M., Al-Haider, S. M., Mostafa, O. A., Al-Fifi, S. H., Mahfouz, A. A. (2014). Perception of cautery healing effect among infants’ parents at the southwestern area of Saudi Arabia. Global Journal of Medicinal Research (F) 14 (4-F).Google Scholar
- Al-Ghamdi, E. A., Qureshi, N. A., Krekman, L., Al-Ghamdi, A. M. A., & Al-Bedah, A. M. (2016). Traditional medicine and modern medicine: knowledge, attitude and practice of medical students and their mothers in Tabuk City, Saudi Arabia. British Journal of Medicine and Medical Research, 16(8), 1–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- AlMansour, M. A., AlBedah, A. M., AlRukban, M. O., Elsubai, I. S., Mohamed, E. Y., El Olemy, A. T., et al. (2015). Medical students’ KAP of complementary and Alternative Medicine: A survey of pre- and post-exposure to CAM curriculum in Majmaah University Saudi Arabia. Advances in Medical Education and Practice, 6, 407–420.Google Scholar
- Alosaimi, F. D., Alshehri, Y., Alfraih, I., Alghamdi, A., Aldahash, S., Alkhuzayem, H., et al. (2014). The prevalence of psychiatric disorders among visitors to faith healers in Saudi Arabia. Pakistan Journal Medicine Sciences, 30(5), 1077–1082.Google Scholar
- AlRawi, S. N., Khidir, A., Elnashar, M. S., Abdelrahim, H. A., Killawi, A. K., Hammoud, M. M., et al. (2017). Traditional Arabic & Islamic medicine: Validation and empirical assessment of a conceptual model in Qatar. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 17(1), 157. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-017-1639-x.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Al-Rowais, A. N., Al-Bedah, A. M., Khalil, M. K., ElOlemy, A. T., Khalil, A. A., Alrasheid, M. H., et al. (2012). Knowledge and attitudes of primary health care physicians towards complementary and alternative medicine in the Riyadh region, Saudi Arabia. Forsch Komplementmed, 19(1), 7–12. (PubMed PMID: 22398920).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Al-Zahim, A. A., Al-Malki, N. Y., Al-Abdulkarim, F. M., Al-Sofayan, S. A., Abunab, H. A., & Abdo, A. A. (2013). Use of alternative medicine by Saudi liver disease patients attending a tertiary care center: Prevalence and attitudes. Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology, 19(2), 75–80.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Awad, A., Al-Shaye, D. (2014). Public awareness, patterns of use and attitudes toward natural health products in Kuwait: A cross-sectional survey. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 14: Available at: https://doi.org/10.1186/1472-6882-14-105.
- Balboni, T. A., Vanderwerker, L. C., Block, S. D., Paulk, M. E., Lathan, C. S., Peteet, J. R., et al. (2007). Religiousness and spiritual support among advanced cancer patients and associations with end-of-life treatment preferences and quality of life. Journal of Clinical Oncology, 25(5), 555–560.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Carlson, T. D., Kirkpatrick, D., Hecker, L., & Killmer, M. (2002). Religion, spirituality, and marriage and family therapy: A study of family therapists’ beliefs about the appropriateness of addressing religious and spiritual issues in therapy. American Journal of Family Therapy, 30(2), 157–171.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Chi, L. M., Lin, L. M., Chen, C. L., Wang, S. F., Lai, H. L., Peng, T. C. (2016). The effectiveness of cupping therapy on relieving chronic neck and shoulder pain: a randomized controlled trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 7 p.Google Scholar
- Clarke, T. C., Black, L. I., Stussman, B. J., Barnes, P. M., & Nahin, R. L. (2015). Trends in the use of complementary health approaches among adults: United States, 2002–2012. National Health Statistics Reports, 79, 1–16.Google Scholar
- Cook, C. C. H. (2011). Recommendations for psychiatrists on spirituality and religion. Position Statement PS03/2011. London: Royal College of Psychiatrists. http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk.
- El Sayed, S. M., Mahmoud, H. S., & Nabo, M. M. H. (2013). Medical and scientific bases of Wet Cupping Therapy (Al-Hijamah). In light of modern medicine and prophetic medicine. Alternative Integrative Medicine, 2, 1–16.Google Scholar
- Eliedi, S., Tayel, S., Al-Slail, F., Qureshi, N. A., Sohaibani, I., Khalil, M., et al. (2016). The Knowledge, attitude and practice of patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus towards the complementary and alternative medicine, diabetic center, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Hospital, Riyadh, 2014. Journal Integrative Medicine, 14(3), 187–196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- El-Olemy, A. T., Al-Bedah, A. M., Almosilhi, A. H., Almusailhi, J. A., Hussein, A. A., Khalil, M., et al. (2017a). Cupping therapy (Al-Hijama): An exploratory study of healthcare professionals controversial beliefs and conceptions, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medical Research, 3, 1–11.Google Scholar
- El-Olemy, A. T., Al-Bedah, A. M., El-Olemy, M. A., Hussein, A. A., Khalil, M., Aboushanab, T. S., et al. (2017b). Cupping therapy (Al-Hijamah): Healthcare professionals’ controversial beliefs and conceptions before and after training program, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medical Research, 3(4), 1–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- El-Olemy, A. T., Al-Bedah, A. M., Hussein, A. A., Elsubai, I. S., Aboushanab, T. S., Khalil, M., et al. (2017c). Trainees feedback for the assessment of Cupping (Al-Hijamah) training programs directed towards healthcare professionals, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Journal of Education, Society and Behavioural Science, 23, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.9734/jesbs/2017/37373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- El-Olemy, A. T., Qureshi, N. A., Al-Bedah, A. M., El-Olemy, M. A., Hussein, A. A., Elsubai, I. S., et al. (2017d). Evaluation of Cupping Training Programs directed towards healthcare professionals, Saudi Arabia. Journal Education, Society Behavioural Science, 23(3), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.9734/JESBS/2017/38292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Epstein, R. M., Duberstein, P. R., Fenton, J. J., Fiscella, K., Hoerger, M., Tancredi, D. J., et al. (2017). Effect of a patient-centered communication intervention on oncologist-patient communication, quality of life, and health care utilization in advanced cancer: The VOICE randomized clinical trial. JAMA Oncology, 3(1), 92–100.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Ernst, E. (2007). Holistic health care? British Journal General Practice, 57(535), 162–163. (PMID: 17263942).Google Scholar
- Gaston-Johansson, F., Haisfield-Wolfe, M. E., Reddick, B., Goldstein, N., & Lawal, T. A. (2013). The relationships among coping strategies, religious coping, and spirituality in African American women with breast cancer receiving chemotherapy. Oncology Nursing Forum, 40(2), 120–131.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Graham, R. E., Ahn, A. C., Davis, R. B., O’Connor, B. B., Eisenberg, D. M., & Phillips, R. S. (2005). Use of complementary and alternative medical therapies among racial and ethnic minority adults: Results from the 2002 National Health Interview Survey. Journal of the National Medical Association, 97(4), 535–545.PubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Hamilton, J. B., Galbraith, K. V., Best, N. C., Worthy, V. C., & Moore, L. T. (2015). African-American cancer survivors’ use of religious beliefs to positively influence the utilization of cancer care. Journal Religion Health, 54(5), 1856–1869. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-014-9948-6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Ibrahim, N. A. R., Al Eid, A., Al Alwan, A., Al Ghawa, Y., Al Ghalbi, M. (2014). Pattern of traditional Islamic medicine utilization among adult oncology patients in Saudi Arabia. Journal Clinical Oncology. Available at: http://ascopubs.org/doi/abs/10.1200/jco.2014.32.15suppl.e20603
- Iqbal, M. N., & Ansari, A. A. (2013). Al-Hijamah (Cupping): The natural holistic healing art—A review. International Journal of Advanced Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy, 2(1), 23.Google Scholar
- Klepikov, I. (2017). Cupping therapy in the 21st century? Why not. Journal General Emergency Medicine, 2(5), 3.Google Scholar
- Koenig, H. G. (2015). Religion, spirituality and health: Review and update. Advances Mind-Body Medicine, 29(3), 19–26.Google Scholar
- Koenig, H., King, D., & Carson, V. B. (2012b). Definitions. In H. Koenig, D. King, & V. B. Carson (Eds.), Handbook of Religion and Health (pp. 37–38). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Mahmoud, H. S., Abou-El-Naga, M., Omar, N. A. A., El-Ghazzawy, H. A., Fathy, Y. M., Nabo, M. M. H., et al. (2013). Anatomical sites for practicing wet cupping therapy (Al-Hijamah): In light of modern medicine and Prophetic Medicine. Alternative & Integrative Medicine, 2(8), 138. https://doi.org/10.4172/2327-5162.1000138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mansour, M. K., Al-Bedah, A. M., AlRukban, M. O., Elsubai, I. S., Mohamed, E. Y., El Olemy, A. T., et al. (2016). Medical students’ perceptions of complementary and Alternative Medicine. A survey of pre- and post-exposure to CAM curriculum in Majmaah University, Saudi Arabia. African Journal Traditional Complementary Alternative Medicines, 13(1), 6–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mohammad, Y., Al-Ahmari, A., Al-Dashash, F., Al-Hussain, F., Al-Masnour, F., Masoud, A., et al. (2015). Pattern of traditional medicine use by adult Saudi patients with neurological disorders. BMC Complementary Alternative Medicine, 15, 102. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-015-0623-6.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Musaiger, A. O., & Abahussain, N. A. (2015). Attitudes and practices of complementary and alternative medicine among adolescents in Saudi Arabia. Global Journal Health Sciences, 7(1), 173–179.Google Scholar
- Nahin, R. L., Boineau, R., Khalsa, P. S., Stussman, B. J., Weber, W. J. (2016). Evidence-based evaluation of complementary health approaches for pain management in the United States. In Mayo Clinic Proceedings 91(9):1292–1306) Elsevier.Google Scholar
- Naja, F., Alameddine, M., Itani, L., Shoaib, H., Hariri, D., Talhouk, S. (2015). The use of complementary and alternative medicine among Lebanese adults: results from a national survey. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 9 p.Google Scholar
- NCCAM. (2016). What is complementary and alternative medicine 2008? Retrieved on February 14, 2016. Available at: http://nccam.nih.gov/health/whatiscam.
- Pearce, M. J., Koenig, H. G., Robins, C. J., Nelson, B., Shaw, S. F., Cohen, H. J., et al. (2015). Religiously integrated cognitive behavioral therapy: A new method of treatment for major depression in patients with chronic medical illness. Psychotherapy (Chic), 52(1), 56–66. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036448.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Sait, K. H., Anfinan, N. M., Eldeek, B., Al-Ahmadi, J., Al-Attas, M., Sait, H. K., et al. (2014). Perception of patients with cancer towards support management services and use of complementary alternative medicine- a single institution hospital-based study in Saudi Arabia. Asian Pacific Journal Cancer Preview, 15(6), 2547–2554.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Saniotis, A. (2015). Understanding mind/body medicine from Muslim religious practices of Salat and Dhikr. Journal Religion Health. 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-014-9992-2.
- Sooksawat, A., Janwantanakul, P., Tencomnao, T., & Pensri, P. (2013). Are religious beliefs and practices of Buddhism associated with disability and salivary cortisol in office workers with chronic low back pain? BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, 14, 29. https://doi.org/10.1186/1471-2474-14-29.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Thuné-Boyle, I. C. V., Stygall, J., Keshtgar, M. R. S., Davidson, T. I., & Newman, S. P. (2013). Religious/spiritual coping resources and their relationship with adjustment in patients newly diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK. Psycho-Oncology, 22, 646–658. https://doi.org/10.1002/pon.3048.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Watkins, Y. J., Quinn, L. T., Ruggiero, L., Quinn, M. T., & Choi, Y. K. (2013). Spiritual and religious beliefs and practices and social support’s relationship to diabetes self-care activities in African Americans. Diabetes Education, 39(2), 231–239. https://doi.org/10.1177/0145721713475843.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- WHO. (2016). Traditional Medicine. 2008–2011. Retrieved March 13, 2016. Available at: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs134/en/index.html.
- Yahya, O. A., Al-Bedah, A. M., Dossari, D., Salem, S. O., & Qureshi, N. A. (2017). Prevalence and public knowledge, attitude and practice of traditional medicine in Al-Aziziah, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. British Journal Medicine Medical Research, 20(9), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.9734/BJMMR/2017/32749.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Zhang, Y. J., Cao, H. J., Li, X. L., Yang, X. Y., Lai, B. Y., Yang, G. Y., et al. (2017). Cupping therapy versus acupuncture for pain-related conditions: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials and trial sequential analysis. Chinese Medicine, 12(1), 21. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13020-017-0142-0.PubMedPubMedCentralCrossRefGoogle Scholar