Friday, January 30, 2009


Most people would cringe at the sight of 2 large leeches happily sucking blood from any part of your body. I would too. But not this you lady who was happy to let these two slimy creatures feed on her blood at the spot where she seems to have a skin disease of sort. I guess she must have exhausted all means of modern medicine to cure it and and now she is resorting to this traditional mean with the hope of curing her ailment.
I chanced upon her at the night market in Down Town Shah Alam. After asking for permission I took a couple of shots of her undergoing the 'bekam' which is a form of blood letting using a leech. The leech is the big ones and not the 'pacat' kind which is more bearable to me at least.
There she is smiling at the sight of the two leeches doing their job. The spouse was definitely supportive of her.

This is the guy who provided the 'Bekam Lintah' services at Pasar Malam Shah Alam. I took one of his phamplets where all the goodness of blood letting using the leeches were espoused and also his contact number. Somehow I have misplaced it so I can't share with you the details. Anyway should you need his services just go to the Pasar Malam Uptown and look out for him there.
When I was small my late grandmother used to ask me to look for leeches to be used on my granduncle whenever he had a bad headache. I was scared of the leeches but had to brave myself and catch the big leeches without touching it. Almost 50 years ago, leeches were easily found wherever there is standing water. Even in the driest of season, there is a water body somewhere in the village where there were leeches to be found. Of course nowadays leeches are reared for many purposes.
I did mention about seeing 'berbekam' being performed on the streets of Labuan using glass cups purpose built for 'berbekam'. These glass cups were fitted with a valve each and a simple pump is used to remove the air inside it creating a vacuum. This is better as clear glass cups are easier to be cleaned when used for blood letting. Small pin hole punctures are made in the skin where the patients blood oozes out. The punctures are so small that it wont leave any visible scars as often is the case when using blades.

This guy showed me how it was done using the vacuum pump.

Blood oozing out from the pin pricks.
Yesterday while walking around Pasir Mas I saw this guy performing a similar thing near the 'Sudut Penjual Ubat' in Pasir Mas. He was using bamboo cups and spirit was used to burn the oxygen in the bamboo cups before placing then on the places where the patient felt the pain.

This guy complained of a shoulder ache and so the cups were applied there. Since the skin or blood vessels were not punctured, there was no blood letting involved. It was just for 'buang angin'.
While taking the photographs the others around asked me to try it out for myself so that I can experience it and this write better about it.

Since there was no blood letting, I agreed to it. He applied his medicated oil before applying the cups on me.

How many cups were there? The suction was quite strong.

After they were removed, you can clearly see the welts on my back. He did it for free so I bought a bottle of his massage oil which cost me RM10.00.
I definitely felt relieved of my backache after that. Unfortunately I am feeling the backache again just a day after that.

Another guy gave it a try after me.


Akmal said...

Ayoh wi,
Berbekam ni memang bagus. One of the practices of the prophet Muhamad pbuh :)
Tak pernah pulak terbaca anything about berbekam lintah. Terapi lintah and bee therapy ada lah.
I read somewhere before that before the use of modern, fibre glass cup, people use tanduk kerbau to do the trick. How, is beyond me.
But seriously, saya tak tahu pun ada orang buat servis berbekam kat tepi jalan kat pasir mas haha...

Zawi said...

Ya ini adalah amalan Nabi Kita dulu.
Konsepnya sama Mal, untuk buangdarah. Guna lintah bagus bab dia mengeluarkan satu kimia mustajab sebagai anti coagulant, justeru darah mengalir keluar lebih banyak lagi.
I think the one in Labuan is good because they are clear galss.
Saya pun kebetulan nampak dia buat tu kat sudut penjual ubat masa nak beli surat khabar. Tapi dia cuma buang angin bukan bekam dalam erti kata darah mengalir keluar.

sherry said...

Pak Zawi..

Sihatnya lintah2 tu. Geli geleman.
Saya ni nama aje lahir and dibesarkan kat kampung..tapi penakut kat lintah yg amat sangat. Ingat lagi masa tolong mak and abah tanam padi,sebelum masuk paya@sawah, we all adik beradik pompuan siap pakai plastik balut kaki macam pakai stokin dan ikat kuat2 dengan getah.

At the end of the day, benih padi tak jugak abis ditanam, masing2 dok sibuk membelek kaki , takut and bimbang ada lintah yang terlepas masuk menembusi plastik.

The next day, abah kata 'tak payah ikutlah..terjerit sana terjerit sini, kerja tak jugak siap'!

Bustaman said...

The old "berbekam" involved buffalo horns as mentioned by Akmal.When I was a young boy I used to see men in Mesjid Putih KT with square patch of shaved hair showing scalp with fresh puncture.
I guess for sartorially -concsious people nowadays, lintah and suction cups are preferable.

Pi Bani said...

Yang I pernah try macam yang you jumpa kat Labuan tu lah. Mula-mula buat dulu kat Taman Tun. Later we bought a set of those glass cups and suction pumps and buat sendiri kat rumah. Tapi la ni dah lama tak buat... maybe it's time for me to bekam again.

Zawi said...

Usahkan awak, saya pun geli. Belum boleh pegang lintah dengan tangan. Masih guna kayu untuk buang lintak atau pacat di badan. Sekurang-kurangnya you dah kenal lintah.
Baru ni cucu I balik ke Pasir Mas. Dia nak tengok pacat. Malangnya pacat pun tak ada sekitar rumah I ni. Biasanya ada.

Zawi said...

Pok Ku,
Memangla dulu pakai hujung tanduk. Kemudian bertukar kepada bottle dakwat Quink. Sekarang dah maju dan client mahu yang canggih so guna suction cup la. Tengok, Pi Bani pun dah ada sendiri punya.

Zawi said...

Kalau I pegi Ipoh boleh upah u buat la ya? Tapi kalau dua cup je lama la nak siap. I ni dah kena buat seluruh badan bab semua badan dak sakit. Maklum la dah tua.

Pi Bani said...

Eh, when I said I bought a set I didn't mean 2 cups. I meant the whole set - the cups, the suction pumps and the needles to puncture the holes to let blood out. Needles of course ganti baru tiap-tiap kali. And cups pun various sizes depending on which part of the body you want to use them.

Tapi nak ambil upah buat kat orang lain sorrylah... tak berani! So far I've only done for myself and my mother.

mamasita said...

Takreti nak komen pasal bekam..just wondering, knapa hospital tak adopt the bekam technique for patients?
Then we'll have the tendency to believe that bekam can cure or relieve some ailments.
And men boleh angkat tshirt buat bekam. Kalau ladies macam mana? hehehe

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Pak Zawi
Someone on Facebook suggested that do this berbekam thing for the headaches I have been having.
I think I should give it a try.

Zawi said...

Pi Bani,

Zawi said...

Kat Hospital pergi je ke unit darah suruh dia ambik 1 pint ke. Masalahnya bila kita cakap kita ada darah tinggi 180/100 dia kata TAK NAK darah orang macam ni.
Kalau ladies kena buat kat SPA la dan bayar lebih sikit.

Zawi said...

For headaches I think you will have to do it at the nape of the neck. Make sure some blood oozes out from the nick of the blade or pin pricks.
I think your big headache will be relieved. Or why not you stop writing for awhile? Maybe that rest will give your brain some needed rest.

Temuk said...

Blood-letting is practised in many cultures. The way people do it varies from culture to culture, but the principle is the same: letting some blood out of certain parts of one's body as a way of curing an ailment. We in Malaysia have improved the techniques of berbekam, for ex. we don't use buffalo horns anymore & we now employ more hygienic procedures. Clients of bekam would normally say they feel "lighter" (ringan/sedap badan) after the procedure. Such feeling might probably be influenced by their "darah beku yang hitam dek penyakit" that the pembekam has successfully "sucked" out of their body. If sdra Zawi has friends who are medical doctors at the USM Kubang Krian Medical Faculty, may be they can be encouraged to conduct a more scientific research on the efficacy of the different forms of berbekam in our society. Medical evaluations of its effectiveness are important, rather than just perceptions of the bekam users. Salam bahagia.

Patricia said...

And so here's proof positive of why I love visiting Laisi! Such an interesting, if slightly eerie post! hahaha

First blood-sucking leeches, then that vacuum thingy!

Keep 'em coming, Zawi. Syabas!


Zawi said...

Most Malaysian doctors will know about Berbekam. I presume many has studied the practice in depth but just didn't publish it. Hopefully some serious discussion can be carried about it. The feeling after 'berbekam' is almost exactly like after you have donated blood.
In the absensce of any concrete evidence, the goodness of berbekam can only be presumed.

Zawi said...

I am so happy if you have found it to be of interest. What I wrote was just supeficial and barely able to scratch the surface....

uncleawang said...

Masa pegi kat border market(Sarikin)terjumpa penjual minyak lintah.Tak tahu pulak apa guna nya..tapi tetap lelaki yg banyak beli(faham-faham je..)

Zawi said...

Sini pun ada orang jual minyak lintah. Dia kata dia punya dibuat dengan menggunakan lintah dari gunung, tak tau la Gunung Kinabalu ke atau Gunung Tahan. Kata dia lagi dia sanggup bayar beribu-ribu ringgit untuk saekor lintah gunung. Kt puncak Gunung Kinabalu ada lintah ke? Kalau ada kita jual kat dia la hehehehehe.
Memang la mimyak limtah gunung adalah minyak urut untuk kaum lelaki. Tak tanya ke kat Sarikin tu nak urut apa?

cjcm said...

Pok Wi.... i heard 'berbekam' is good.... tapi suspen gak tgk darah kena sedut kuar hehehe

Berbekam guna lintah? heeeeeeeeeeeee... a no no for me.. :)

Zawi said...

Saya cuma buat yang tiada darah keluar jadi tak boleh komen la efficacynya.
Berbekam lintah tu kalau dah terpaksa apa nak buat. Macam yang dalam gambar tu mungkin dia dah puas berubat tapi tak sembuh. Ini adalah satu usaha dia nak sembuh.

Hilmi Hamzah said...

Pak Zawi,

I have seen the leech therapy in Pasir Mas myself. I always thought that it was good but never tried myself. Fear factor, hehe.

On a serious note, the therapy has been widely commercialized. Try this -

razihan said...

salam abg wi
saya amek gambar masjid jubli perak dari blog abg wi

Zawi said...

I doubt that I will try the leech therapy myself unless I have to.
Thanks for the URL. I will visit it immediately.

Zawi said...

No hal.
Dengar khabar Kosmo ada mengeluarkan artikel mengenai mesjid ini. Kini Kerajaan Federal pula telah meluluskan pembinaan Mesjid berasaskan ciri architecture Cina di Selayang.

razihan said...

salam abg wi

1 februari 2008, mingguan malaysia ada artikel pelancongan di kelantan dan siap ada gambar masjid jubli perak rantau panjang,yang saya pelik MM kan paper dia punya x kan x bukak kot hehehe.mungkin xsempat kot depa ngah ralik memancing bersama member baru kat perak hehe

Zawi said...

Bukan dia tak tahu cuma dia buat tak tahu dan harap orang ramai juga tak tahu bahawa sebuah mesjid sedemikian dah hampir siap dibina. Mereka dulu tak setuju mesjid sedemikian dibina tapi bila sebuah terbina di kelantan mereka sedar kesilapan mereka.

Covert_Operations'78 said...

Salam, Abang Zawi!

Leeches don't spread disease and are not poisonous, so I guess many people only have to overcome the 'geli' factor. I am so used to leeches that I don't even bother removing them from me anymore. Just let them feed and fall off on their own.

I haven't tried 'bekam' before but my brother has. He came back with big purple round bruises all over. I told him that he looked like an alien.

Bloodletting is a mediaval practice. In fact, historical records has it that it is how Robin Hood died. Robin was by then old and sick and often went to the nunnery to get the nuns to let his bad blood out. Common practice when there were no hospitals back then, eh. An evil nun who was a supporter of the corrupt Sherrif then made a big cut and let Robin bleed to death. By the time his Merry Men sensed something was wrong and barged in to rescue him, Robin had already lost too much blood. The Merry Men's code of conduct prevented them from harming women, so they merely carried Robin to the window, where he shot his last arrow with his dying strength. Robin asked to be buried where the arrow fell. What a dramatic death, eh? Sadly, we can't go around shooting arrows and requesting to be buried where it fell anymore. Land is not free, mah.

See you on Sunday!

CO78, Over!

Mat Cendana said...

I was hopeful for "something to happen" from this suction treatment. But after reading the second-last line, I think I'll just pass. Anyway, I'm also wondering how he would apply the suction on ME; with mostly skin and bones.

Zabs said...

Salam Zawi,
Teringat semasa kecik2 dulu. Apabila ada kudis di kaki, yang telah dihisap darah oleh lintah semasa ke sawah, akan cepat kering dan sembuh.

louis said...

Pretty graphic but very informative photos of traditional medicine.


Zawi said...

That's the most important answer that I had been seeking - leeches don transmit diseases around. I thought otherwise cos the action seems to be quite similar to sharing of syringe among drug addicts.
Thank you for the info about how Robin Hood died. He was my fero during my childhood days when reading books or comics about them.
See you and your gang in KL.

Zawi said...

The relief was felt immediately but it was temporay.
With just skin and nones you may not want to do it in public. Of course he will be able to finbd a spot where the cup can be placed and attached via suction. Just do it for experience, after all it is free. No obligation to buy anything at all.

Zawi said...

Rasanya pesakit tersebut akan medapat menfaat dari bekam lintah tersebut. Saya akan cuba hubungi doktor bekam tu untuk mengetahui kesannya. Alagkah eloknya jika saya dapat mengambil gambar kaki pesakit tu sekali lagi.

Zawi said...

I guess the photo really had served its purpose. It was supposed to grab attention. Thanks for the feedback

Anonymous said...

bekam mmg bez sebulan akan wat sekali bg buang panas kat bdn skr pljr t.6 atas,mggu lps sy ada tlg kwn2 wat bekam n mrk pun myukainya...mggu ni mrk kt nak wat lg...smpai ckgu sy to pun terikut tlh mgamal bekam ni slm 4 thn...dulu msh muda sy tkut nk cube...coz ayah sy pernah terpengsan ktika wat bekam to..overdos kot???hehehe....

Pak Zawi said...

Awak bekam yang buang darah ke? Kalau yang buang darah tu memang berkesan.

KSCheah said...

I heard someone experimented with a big old berok. They wanted to see the effects. There were strange ones where the old berok changed. Don't know whether it was a coincidence.