Since the time of ancient Egypt, leeches have been used in medicine to treat nervous system abnormalities, dental problems, skin diseases, and infections. Today, they’re mostly used in plastic surgery and other microsurgery. This is because leeches secrete peptides and proteins that work to prevent blood clots. These secretions are also known as anticoagulants. This keeps blood flowing to wounds to help them heal. Currently, leech therapy is seeing a revival due to its simple and inexpensive means of preventing complications. Medicinal leeches have three jaws with tiny rows of teeth. They pierce a person’s skin with their teeth and insert anticoagulants through their saliva. The leeches are then allowed to extract blood, for 20 to 45 minutes at a time, from the person undergoing treatment. This equates to a relatively small amount of blood, up to 15 millilitres per leech. Medicinal leeches most often come from Hungary or Sweden.
What is leech therapy good for?
Leeches are effective at increasing blood circulation and breaking up blood clots. It should be no surprise that they can be used to treat circulatory disorders and cardiovascular disease. Chemicals derived from leech saliva have been made into pharmaceutical drugs that can treat: hypertension.