Medicinal Leech Therapy (Hirudotherapy): A Brief Overview

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010 Nov;16(4):213-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2009.11.005. Epub 2010 Mar 6.

Abstract

Hirudotherapy is a treatment using medicinal leeches. Hirudo medicinali, have been used to treat patients for centuries. In the past, leeches have proved to be an effective treatment for a number of conditions including battle wound treatment. Currently leeches may be used to assist in the treatment of abscesses, arthritis, glaucoma, myasthenia gravis, thrombosis and some venous disorders. Medical leeches may also be used in plastic surgery and in some blood circulatory problems. During feeding, leeches secrete a complex mixture of different biologically and pharmacologically active substances into the wound. Hirudin is the prominent constituent of leech saliva. It is sometimes used to describe all the active constituents in the leech saliva. This paper outlines the potential use of leech therapy in current medical care in India.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hirudins
  • Hirudo medicinalis*
  • Humans
  • India
  • Leeching*
  • Saliva

Substances

  • Hirudins