The origins of blood-letting date back to Hippocrates in ancient Greece when the practice was recommended to both prevent as well as remedy illness. Galen also supported therapeutic bleeding because it fit with his humoral theory. According to humoral theory, illness is caused by an imbalance of the body’s four humors: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm . Thus, maintaining a balance of humors by the removal of excess blood was thought to preserve health.
The spring-lancet was predated by the thumb lancet (15th century) and fleams (17th and 18th centuries) . Both these devices required the user to...
Guest Post by Catherine Osborn, BA/BS
Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology, Case Western Reserve University
Matters of the heart are often confusing. Early scientists wondered if “the motion of the heart was only to be comprehended by God” . The heart and blood were the subjects of much medical debate in the 17th century when an English physician questioned classic anatomical texts. Although previous anatomists like Vesalius had questioned traditional views, William Harvey was the first to accurately describe the circulation of blood throughout the body. Once scientists understood the regular functions of the cardiovascular system, medical pioneers explored how to...