Leeches, bloodletting, and phlebotomy in the 21st century

A historical illustration of bloodletting

Starting with the ancient Egyptians and continuing through the 19th century, bloodletting – the therapeutic removal of blood from the body – was a commonly practiced medical procedure. According to Hippocrates, illness was caused by an imbalance of the four basic humors: blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile. Procedures such as bloodletting, purging, catharsis and