Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: leeches

  • Leeching and François-Joseph-Victor Broussais

    JMS Pearce Hull, England, UK   Fig 1. Broussais & leeching. Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica. The practice of bloodletting began with the Egyptians and was succeeded by the Greeks, Romans (including Galen), and healers in India. In medieval times it spread throughout Europe. The “leech craze” was so popular in the nineteenth century that it has…

  • Heinrich Heine and the mattress tomb

    Nicolás Roberto Robles Badajoz, Spain Harry Heine was born in Bolkerstrasse, Düsseldorf, Germany. He jokingly described himself as the “first man of the century,” claiming that he had been born on New Year’s Eve 1800. Researchers have discovered, however, that December 13, 1797, is most likely the date of his birth. The oldest of four children,…

  • Rheumatic fever: Evolution of causal concepts and management

    Amogh BJTrivandrum, Kerala, India Nanditha VenkatesanRaipur, Chhattisgarh, India For centuries rheumatic fever (RF) and its sequelae scourged the lives of millions of people. Despite a substantial decline in deaths from the disease, rheumatic heart disease remains a problem, especially in areas of poverty. Over the past few centuries, a growing understanding of its causation and…

  • Blood beliefs and practices in Iran

    Bahar DowlatshahiTehrann, Iran Blood is believed to have special abilities and properties in many eastern countries such as Iran. Even human personality traits, emotions, and relationships are referred to with blood. Angry people boil their blood; those who are kind and loving are called warm-blooded. In the tradition of some tribes, a stranger can be…

  • The leech makes a comeback

    Meryl SigatonCity of Silay, Philippines Leeches (hirudo medicinalis) are invertebrates of the phylum Annelida whose main diet is blood. They are hermaphrodites and carnivorous, having 700 species that thrive in a variety of environments. Most of them are small, weighing less than 1–1.5 g before feeding, but some may reach a length of twelve centimeters.…

  • Blood and bandages

    Patricia A. UnsworthBolton, England, United Kingdom The notorious Sweeney Todd, the demon barber of Fleet Street, is possibly the first thought that comes to mind at the mention of barber surgeons, but how far from reality was this character of Victorian fiction? Perhaps not so far removed as one might imagine. Todd was obviously a…

  • Bloodletting with leeches: More dangerous than meeting Dracula

    S. Sabrina Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan Since time immemorial physicians have treated patients by removing various amounts of blood from the circulatory system. For this purpose they used objects that could cut the skin, such as sharpened pieces of wood, stones, teeth of wild animals, or even the feathers of birds. These tools changed over time, and…

  • The central nervous system of the leech

    Leeches are worms of the subspecies Hirudinea that live in oceans, rivers, or on land. They consist of several parts or segments; a front area designated as the head or anterior brain, the middle part consisting of segments each containing a nerve ganglion as well as other organs, and the hind part which has the…