Medicine, Leeching for Health +
(leeches are bleeding their way back into the good graces of modern medical treatment as healers just as they did in ancient societies)
In ancient times, it was thought that an unbalanced condition of the body's essential fluids or humors, were the primary cause of diseases; therefore, a reasonable treatment involved getting rid of excess blood or some other body fluid which seemed to be in oversupply.
One leech-derived substance, the anti-coagulant hirudin, has been known since 1884, but the use of live leeches in Western Europe in the first half of the 19th century has only recently been re-introduced to solve some post-operative problems in microsurgery.
2. One species has been used in medical treatments to bleed patients or to eat away putrid flesh from a wound.
3. Any of numerous carnivorous or bloodsucking annelid worms that constitute the class Hirudinea, that typically have a flattened segmented lance-shaped body with well-marked external annulations (ringlike structures, segments, or parts), a sucker at each end, a mouth within the anterior sucker, and a large stomach with pouches of large capacity at the sides.
Such pouches are hermaphroditic (having both male female reproductive organs); usually, with direct development, and which occur chiefly in fresh water, although a few are marine and some tropical forms are terrestrial.
2. To bleed patients for medical treatment by the use of leeches.
3. A nursing intervention from the Nursing Interventions Classification (NIC) defined as application of medicinal leeches to help drain replanted or transplanted tissue engorged with venous blood.
Thousands of patients currently owe the successful reattachment of body parts to miraculous technological advances in plastic and reconstructive surgery; however, at least some of these operations might have failed if leeches had not been reintroduced into the operating room. The appendages reattached include fingers, hands, toes, legs, ears, noses and scalps.
2. The use of medicinal leeches to draw blood from patients; an extensive practice in earlier times that is now largely discontinued, although a few specialized uses of this technique still exist.
The leech was indispensable in 19th Century medicine for bloodletting, a practice believed to be a cure for anything from headaches to gout.
Leeching was largely abandoned as medical science advanced, only occasionally being called upon to treat bruising and black eyes; however, the medicinal leech is making a comeback in modern medicine thanks in part to the work of Dr. Roy Sawyer, an American scientist who established the world's first leech farm.
Based at Hendy near Swansea, South Wales, Biopharm is home to over 50,000 leeches which are supplied to hospitals and research laboratories around the world.
Leeches were used as a method of bloodletting, a practice common up to the middle of the 19th century.
In modern times, leeches have been used to evacuate periorbital hemorrhage (black eye) and to remove congested venous blood from the suture lines of re-implanted fingers.
Sometimes, a patient's veins are too weak to carry blood and it builds up, causing venous congestion and since leeches are a source of hirudin, an anticoagulating principle secreted by their buccal glands and leech saliva contains several active substances including inhibitors of platelet aggregation, they are used to decrease such venous congestion.
The leech's saliva contains substances that anesthetize the wound area, dilate the blood vessels to increase blood flow, and prevent the blood from clotting and so attaching leeches to the body draws the blood away gradually and painlessly.
Leeches are particularly useful in plastic surgery; such as, breast reconstruction and where a part of the body has become severed and had to be sewn back on.