Phlebotomy Essay

1366 WordsSep 3, 20146 Pages
The term ‘Phlebotomy’ suggests the taking of blood. ‘Phlebotomy’ comes from the Greek word phlebos, meaning veins, and tome, meaning incision. Bloodletting is one of the humanity's oldest medical practices, dating back thousands of years and is linked to many ancient cultures, including the Mayans, Aztecs, Egyptians and Mesopotamians. Evidence suggests bloodletting for therapeutic reasons may have begun in Egypt around 1400B.C. Tomb paintings from this time show the application of a leech to a patient. The purpose was to cure a person suffering from some kind of infirmity (leprosy, plague, pneumonia, stroke, and inflammation, pretty much anything). The patient was pierced or cut and then drained of several ounces of blood until they fainted. In ancient Greek culture, a physician named Galen of Pergamon took the practice in a more scientific direction when he discovered that arteries were filled with blood, not air. Galen's approach to bloodletting was based on two key concepts. First, Galen believed that blood didn't circulate, but stayed motionless in the body until it either went stagnant or was let out. Secondly, he thought the balance of the four humors (blood, phlegm, black bile and yellow bile) was the source of health or illness. Mapping out the blood vessels of the body, Galen would cut his patients in different areas, depending on what area he wanted to treat. For example, the right hand would be cut and drained in order to treat liver problems. He was also known to give his patients drugs in order to induce vomiting or urination. Bloodletting was also prominent in the early days of some of the world's most practiced religions. The Talmud (a central text of Judaism) included rules for days where bloodletting could be practiced. Early Christian writings outlined which saint's days were the best for the ritual. Bloodletting is also referenced as a

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