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Giving a little blood with a small needle is bad enough, think of enduring the gruesome procedure of being cut with various instruments to purposely drain out your blood, to find out later it was only hurting you.




Bloodletting was first performed in ancient Egypt around 1000 BCE, and later spread to the Greeks and Romans. Strange theories were developed of balancing four humors, and draining “excess” blood was one way of balancing these humors. Charts were developed and circulated by medieval times, showing specific bleeding sites on the body for various ailments, adjusted for different times of the year. George Washington died while being bled by bloodletting.




Though the bloodletting was often recommended by physicians, it was carried out by barbers. This led to the distinction between physicians and surgeons. 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. Leeches became especially popular in the early nineteenth century. In the 1830s, the French imported about forty million leeches a year for medical purposes. Though the practice began to be seriously questioned in the second half of the 1800’s, it was recommended as late as 1923 by Sir William Osler (one of the four founding professors of Johns Hopkins Hospital) in his textbook The Principles and Practice of Medicine.




How long does it take the world to figure out that bleeding

blood out of people hurts rather than helps?


About three thousand years. By Mike Murphy 


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