Bloodletting

bleedingblood-lettingblood lettingbledbleeddraw bloodphlebotomya customary treatment of the timebeing bledBleed a Fever
Bloodletting (or blood-letting) is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to prevent or cure illness and disease.wikipedia
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Medicine

medicalmedical scienceclinical medicine
Bloodletting, whether by a physician or by leeches, was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluids were regarded as "humours" that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health.
For example, a medicine man would apply herbs and say prayers for healing, or an ancient philosopher and physician would apply bloodletting according to the theories of humorism.

Leech

leechesHirudineaArhynchobdellida
Bloodletting, whether by a physician or by leeches, was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluids were regarded as "humours" that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health.
Leeches were used in medicine from ancient times until the 19th century to draw blood from patients.

Blood

human bloodhematologicaloxygen consumption
Bloodletting (or blood-letting) is the withdrawal of blood from a patient to prevent or cure illness and disease.
However, bloodletting and leeching were common unvalidated interventions used until the 19th century, as many diseases were incorrectly thought to be due to an excess of blood, according to Hippocratic medicine.

Humorism

humorshumoursfour humours
Bloodletting, whether by a physician or by leeches, was based on an ancient system of medicine in which blood and other bodily fluids were regarded as "humours" that had to remain in proper balance to maintain health.
Typically "eighteenth-century" practices such as bleeding a sick person or applying hot cups to a person were, in fact, based on the humoral theory of imbalances of fluids (blood and bile in those cases).

Galen

Galen of PergamonGalenic medicineGalenus
During the Roman Empire, the Greek physician Galen, who subscribed to the teachings of Hippocrates, advocated physician-initiated bloodletting.
At first reluctantly but then with increasing vigour, Galen promoted Hippocratic teaching, including venesection and bloodletting, then unknown in Rome.

Hypertension

high blood pressurehypertensivearterial hypertension
It is conceivable that historically, in the absence of other treatments for hypertension, bloodletting sometimes had a beneficial effect in temporarily reducing blood pressure by reducing blood volume.
Historically the treatment for what was called the "hard pulse disease" consisted in reducing the quantity of blood by bloodletting or the application of leeches.

HFE hereditary haemochromatosis

hemochromatosishereditary hemochromatosishaemochromatosis
Therapeutic phlebotomy refers to the drawing of a unit of blood in specific cases like hemochromatosis, polycythemia vera, porphyria cutanea tarda, etc., to reduce the number of red blood cells.
Phlebotomy (or bloodletting) is usually done at a weekly interval until ferritin levels are less than 50 μg/l.

Barber surgeon

barber-surgeonbarber surgeonsbarber-surgeons
Even after the humoral system fell into disuse, the practice was continued by surgeons and barber-surgeons.
Yet since doctors thought that blood letting treated illness, barbers also applied leeches.

Barber

barber shopbarbersbarbering
The red-and-white-striped pole of the barbershop, still in use today, is derived from this practice: the red symbolizes blood while the white symbolizes the bandages.
In addition to haircutting, hairdressing, and shaving, barbers performed surgery, bloodletting and leeching, fire cupping, enemas, and the extraction of teeth; earning them the name "barber surgeons".

Erasistratus

Erasistratus of ChiosErasistratus of CeosErasistratos
Erasistratus, however, theorized that many diseases were caused by plethoras, or overabundances, in the blood and advised that these plethoras be treated, initially, by exercise, sweating, reduced food intake, and vomiting.
Of his method of cure the most remarkable peculiarity was his aversion to bloodletting and purgative medicines: he seems to have relied chiefly on diet and regimen, bathing, exercise, friction, and the most simple vegetables.

Medicine in the medieval Islamic world

physicianIslamic medicinemedicine
Islamic medical authors too advised bloodletting, particularly for fevers.
Bloodletting and cauterization were techniques widely used in ancient Islamic society by physicians, as a therapy to treat patients.

Benjamin Rush

Dr. Benjamin RushRushBenjamin F. Rush
Bloodletting was also popular in the young United States of America, where Benjamin Rush (a signatory of the Declaration of Independence) saw the state of the arteries as the key to disease, recommending levels of bloodletting that were high even for the time.
He became a professor of medical theory and clinical practice at the University of Pennsylvania in 1791, though the quality of his medicine was quite primitive even for the time: he advocated bloodletting for almost any illness, long after its practice had declined.

Blood donation

blood driveblood donordonate blood
Blood is sometimes collected using similar methods for therapeutic phlebotomy, similar to the ancient practice of bloodletting, which is used to treat conditions such as hereditary hemochromatosis or polycythemia vera.

Traditional Chinese medicine

Chinese medicineChinese traditional medicinemedicine
Though bloodletting as a general health measure has been shown to be harmful, it is still commonly indicated for a wide variety of conditions in the Ayurvedic, Unani, and traditional Chinese systems of alternative medicine.
This being said, most historians now make a distinction between medical lancing (or bloodletting) and acupuncture in the narrower sense of using metal needles to attempt to treat illnesses by stimulating supposed points along circulation channels ("meridians") in accordance with beliefs related to the circulation of "Qi".

Barber's pole

barber poleBarber Polesbarber-pole
The red-and-white-striped pole of the barbershop, still in use today, is derived from this practice: the red symbolizes blood while the white symbolizes the bandages.
In Renaissance-era Amsterdam, the surgeons used the colored stripes to indicate that they were prepared to bleed their patients (red), set bones or pull teeth (white), or give a shave if nothing more urgent was needed (blue).

William Osler

Sir William OslerOsler Housethe Osler Medical Service
Authorities such as Austin Flint I, Hiram Corson, and William Osler became prominent supporters of bloodletting in the 1880s and onwards, disputing Bennett's premise that bloodletting had fallen into disuse because it didn't work.
It is notable in part for supporting the use of bloodletting as recently as 1923.

Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis

LouisPierre Louis
William Harvey disproved the basis of the practice in 1628, and the introduction of scientific medicine, la méthode numérique, allowed Pierre Charles Alexandre Louis to demonstrate that phlebotomy was entirely ineffective in the treatment of pneumonia and various fevers in the 1830s.
In the 19th century, an influential theory was proposed by French physician François-Joseph-Victor Broussais, that fevers were the result of inflammation of the organs, and bloodletting was an effective treatment for any fever.

Fleam

Fleams
A fleam, also flem, flew, flue, fleame, or phleam, was a handheld instrument used for bloodletting.

History of medicine

medical historianmedicinehistorian of medicine
The balance of humours in humans could be achieved by diet, medicines, and by blood-letting, using leeches.

Cupping therapy

cuppingfire cuppinghijama
The practice was probably passed by the Greeks with the translation of ancient texts to Arabic and is different than bloodletting by cupping mentioned in the traditions of Muhammad.

George Washington

WashingtonGeneral WashingtonGeneral George Washington
George Washington asked to be bled heavily after he developed a throat infection from weather exposure.
On Saturday, he awoke to an inflamed throat and difficulty breathing, so he ordered estate overseer George Rawlins to remove nearly a pint of his blood, a practice of the time.

Unani medicine

UnaniYunaniYunani medicine
Though bloodletting as a general health measure has been shown to be harmful, it is still commonly indicated for a wide variety of conditions in the Ayurvedic, Unani, and traditional Chinese systems of alternative medicine.
These therapies include cupping, aromatherapy, bloodletting, bathing, exercise, and dalak (massaging the body).

Jacques Ferrand

Ferrand
A French physician, Jacques Ferrand wrote a book in 1623 on the uses of bloodletting to cure a broken heart.
In 1623, Ferrand wrote a book about the uses of bloodletting to cure "heartbreak" and "heartsickness" (figurative).

John Hughes Bennett

John Hughes Bennett (1812–1875)BennettProfessor John Hughes Bennett
In the medical community of Edinburgh, bloodletting was abandoned in practice before it was challenged in theory, a contradiction highlighted by physician-physiologist John Hughes Bennett.
He opposed bloodletting and was highly influential in changing medical therapeutics towards a more science-based approach in the second half of the 19th century.

Ancient history

antiquityancientancient world
It is claimed to have been the most common medical practice performed by surgeons from antiquity until the late 19th century, a span of over 2,000 years.