On using Leeches (historic info, but not for the squeamish)
Posted by Carolyn B on February 24, 1998 at 21:31:08:
In response to Since Then. . . ., written by Ken on February 24, 1998 at 11:32:42
Yeah, so now everyone has to read this. Hope this doesn't violate the PG rating here!
This advice is from F. Hollick, MD, The diseases of Woman, Their Cause and Cure Familiarly Explained (New York, 1849) on curing amenorrhea (chronic lack of menstrual periods) as quoted in Complaints and Disorders: The Sexual Politics of Sickness by Barbara Ehrenreich and Deirdre English (1973 - a bit old but still in print and available at the Women's Rights National Historical Park store in Seneca Falls, NY):
"'Some authors speak very highly of the good effects of leeches, applied to the external lips [of the genitals], a few days before the period is expected.' Leeches on the breasts might prove effective, too, he observed. . . . In some cases leeches were even applied to the cervix despite the danger of their occasional loss in the uterus."
(My history professor at UVa mentioned this last procedure in an undergrad course on History of Women in America, but she said that some of the medical texts did warn the doctors of the importance of keeping track of how many leeches went in and retrieving the same number! Ewwwwwgh....)
But seriously folks....
Another interesting quote from Ehrenreich & English:
"Not until 1912, according to one medical estimate, did the average patient, seeking help from the average American doctor, have more than a fifty-fifty chance of benefiting from the encounter. In fact the average patient ran a significant risk of actually getting a worse result: bleeding, violent purges, heavy doses of mercury-based drugs, and even opium were standard therapeutic approaches throughout the nineteenth century."
- Another estimate Ken 08:30:24 2/25/98 (1)
- Something from Anthro 101 Carolyn B 20:19:57 2/25/98 (0)
- PS: I'll spare you the descriptions of bloodletting : P *nfm* Carolyn B 21:38:42 2/24/98 (0)
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