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A treatment in which evacuated glass cups are applied to intact or scarified skin in order to draw blood toward or through the surface. It was used for disorders associated with an excess of blood, one of the four humors of medieval physiology.


(Medicine) med archaic the process of applying a cupping glass to the skin


(ˈkʌp ɪŋ)

the process of drawing blood to the surface of the body by the application of partially evacuated glass cups, as for relieving internal congestion.


A method of heat stimulation in which small, warm cups, bowls or drums are placed on the skin in order to increase local blood supply.


The process of pulling extra blood to the skin surface by placing a cup (Cupping glass) in which the air pressure can be reduced, mouth down onto the skin surface. Cups with an integral rubber squeeze bulb for reducing pressure in the cup were available from the Sears catalog in the early 1900s. Historically, however, the reduced pressure was usually produced by heating the air in the cup before application and then allowing it to cool after the cup was pressed onto the skin. A man growing up on the East coast in the 1930s recalls that before the application of each cup to his father’s chest or back (for fever reduction), a lighted wad of cotton dipped in alcohol would be stuck into the inverted cup for a few seconds. Someone from West Texas remembers hearing about the cups being held inverted over the spout of a steaming Teakettle. A man growing up in East Texas said his mother would heat an empty soft drink bottle in boiling water, quickly wrap the bottle in a cooled towel, and then place the bottle, mouth down, on bothersome skin eruptions. In other parts of the world, animal horns with the tip end cut off were placed on the skin and pressure reduced by sucking on the tip. This is similar to a child’s practice of briefly sucking on a hurt finger. Cupping was mentioned in English writing as early as 1519 and even in Greek medical treatises of Hippocrates’ time.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.cupping - a treatment in which evacuated cups are applied to the skin to draw blood through the surface
bloodletting - formerly used as a treatment to reduce excess blood (one of the four humors of medieval medicine)


n (Med) → Schröpfen nt
References in classic literature ?
He did not approve of a too lowering system, including reckless cupping, nor, on the other hand, of incessant port wine and bark.
Wetting his thin lips with his tongue, Achmet Zek loosened the tie strings which closed the mouth of the pouch, and cupping one claw-like hand poured forth a portion of the contents into his palm.
The therapeutic applications of cupping have been documented through several thousand years of clinical experience.