Image of a wooden box with several glass bells of different sizes within. A brass hose with different nozzle sizes sits beside it.
Tools used in a cupping kit, from left to right: scarificator, cup, syringe. Image courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Cupping therapy is a medical treatment in which local suction is created on the skin in an effort to increase blood flow to promote healing or restore humoral health balance. It was practiced as early as the Hippocratics and persisted in high medical popularity until the late nineteenth century. This particular kit belonged to Dr. James T. Reeve a physician from Appleton, WI and was donated to the Wisconsin Historical Society in 1952 by his son, J.S. Reeve.

Three tools were necessary for wet cupping. The scarificator released several small, spring-loaded razors to break the skin in order to draw blood. The cup was then attached to the broken skin using flame to create a vacuum. The syringe was then connected to the cup by a small rubber tube and drew blood into the cup.

Dr. Reeve’s kit contained five different sizes and shapes of cups, in addition to the usual scarificator and syringe. The various cups were used depending on where they were to be applied and the amount of fluid to be drawn.

Written by McKenzie Bruce and Eleanor Miller, November 2013.

Wisconsin Historical Museum object M1961.7/HO5033

Object history courtesy ofWisconsin Historical Society logo


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