Surgical instrument set in wooden case, India, 1801-1900
The lancets would have been used for blood letting, one of five treatments that make up panchakarma therapy. This is used in Ayurvedic medicine to cleanse or purge the body. The remaining four are vomiting, purging using laxatives, enemas and cleansing the nostril. Blood letting is rarely performed now because it is dangerous. However, leeches are used if it is practised.
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Glossary: surgical instrument set
Set of instruments to be used for surgery. A physician would often build up their own collection of favoured tools in order to feel as comfortable as possible when carrying out surgery.
A surgical instrument of various forms, commonly sharp-pointed and two-edged. The lancet is used in venesection (the act of opening a vein for bloodletting), and in opening abscesses.
A type of worm that possesses suckers at both ends of its body. Formerly widely used for letting blood, the medicinal leech may now be used following microsurgery to encourage the growth of new capillaries. Leeches are found in tropical forests, grasslands and in water.
An Indian medical tradition. Literally translated it means ‘Life Science’ and promotes mental and physical health through balancing biological elements. Ayurveda focuses on exercise, massage, yoga and meditation.
Puncturing a vein in order to withdraw blood. A popular medical practice for over two thousand years. Bloodletting often involved withdrawing large quantities of blood in the belief that this would cure or prevent many illnesses and diseases. The practice has been abandoned for all but a few very specific conditions.