Last Saturday on the Natural Health Show, during my weekly Radical Remedies segment, I talked about medicinal leeches. It’s an old therapeutic practice that is now considered very radical, mostly because of the general appearance of these critters. The practice dates back to 800 BC in India and ancient Greece.
The general idea was to use leeches to draw out blood in order to keep the four humors of ancient medical philosophy in balance. The founder of this philosophy was Galen, who lived in ancient Greece and is a man considered by many to be one of the fathers of modern medicine. The four humors were blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow bile. It was believed that too much or too little of any one of them could lead to disease. Too much blood would manifest itself as inflamed, reddened skin, so it was believed that letting out blood in a controlled fashion would fix the underlying cause of the illness.