I have a “history of medicine” question. When did the medical community stop “bloodletting” and such?

Question by chrstnwrtr: I have a “history of medicine” question. When did the medical community stop “bloodletting” and such?
This question came about after listening to a podcast about Civil War medicine.

When did medical science stop “bloodletting” or stop relying on the “four humors” theory and focus on modern medical science? I do know that this kind of medicine dated way, WAY back from the Middle Ages to the enlightened 18th century.

I don’t know if I was paying attention but the guy on the podcast said that even during the Civil War, there was some bloodletting going on (as well as Southern folk remedies when conventional medicine was in short supply).

So when did the medical community fully reject the antiquated “four humors” theory? I’m not expecting an exact date but perhaps a specific time period (i.e. mid 19th century).


Best answer:

Answer by Chanhassen
My guess is when a reliable alternative theory came about. The germ theory of disease.
Here’s the wikipedia page on it:

the first idea about “seed-like” disease carriers was in the 1500’s, but the first real evidence came in the mid 1800’s
check it out:

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1 thought on “I have a “history of medicine” question. When did the medical community stop “bloodletting” and such?

  1. Bloodletting was once routinely prescribed to eliminate impurities that doctors believed caused disease. So when George Washington was stricken with malaria and a sore throat in December 1799, his physicians bled a quart of blood from his weakened body, and followed that with laxatives and emetics.
    A few hours later, Washington died – from a cure far worse than the disease.

    A growing number of doctors are starting to agree. Maggots are useful because they help remove dead tissue and expose healthy tissue, a process called debridement. Maggot debridement therapy was popular in the early part of the last century but went out of vogue when antibiotic use became widespread.
    But maggots are now making a comeback, and they are increasingly being used to treat ulcers, gangrene, skin cancer, and burns. Research also suggests maggots may help decrease the risks of infections after surgery.

    Leeches, too
    Maggot therapy is just one example of a medical approach called biotherapy — the use of living animals to aid in medical diagnosis or treatment. Leeches are another example.

    It seem to disappear during the 1900’s. In ancient times, leeches were used to treat everything from headaches to ear infections to hemorrhoids. Historians think Egyptians used leech therapy 3,500 years ago. The treatments were back in vogue during the Middle Ages, and again in the 1800s.
    Nowadays, leeches are routinely used to drain blood from swollen faces, limbs and digits after reconstructive surgery.

    They are especially useful when reattaching small parts that contain many blood vessels, like ears, where blood clots can easily form in veins that normally drain blood from tissues. If the clots are severe, the tissues can die — drowned in the body’s own fluid — because they are deprived of oxygen and other vital nutrients.

    Scientists are also looking at using leeches to treat other ailments. Studies led by Andreas Michalsen, a researcher at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, suggests leech therapy may lessen the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, a debilitating disease where bones can grind against one another because the cartilage has been worn down.

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