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Cupping set, London, England, 1860-1875

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    Glossary: cupping set

    Set of instruments to practice cupping. The purpose of cupping was to draw what was considered to be bad matter in the blood toward selected places in the body at the surface of the skin, away from vital organs.

    Glossary: cupping

    The application of a heated cup to the skin, creating a slight vacuum , which causes swelling of the tissues beneath and an increase in the flow of blood to the area. This was thought to draw out harmful excess blood from diseased organs nearby and so promote healing.

    Glossary: lancets

    A surgical instrument of various forms, commonly sharp-pointed and two-edged. The lancet is used in venesection (the act of opening a vein for bloodletting), and in opening abscesses.

    Glossary: bloodletting

    Puncturing a vein in order to withdraw blood. A popular medical practice for over two thousand years. Bloodletting often involved withdrawing large quantities of blood in the belief that this would cure or prevent many illnesses and diseases. The practice has been abandoned for all but a few very specific conditions.