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In medicine, particularly plastic and reconstructive surgery, leeches may be used to help improve blood flow in an area of tissue or a skin flap that has poor blood circulation. Leeches do this by removing clotted blood (congested blood) from delicate areas, such as underneath a flap of skin or on a finger or toe.
The earliest clearly documented record of leeches being used for remedial purpose appears in a painting in an Egyptian Tomb of around 1500 BC.
In antiquity, Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) recommended leeches to treat phlebitis and haemorrhoids, while Egyptian medics believed the leech could help cure everything from fevers to flatulence. For centuries, patients were bled to restore a supposed imbalance in bodily humours.
Medicinal leeches most often come from Hungary or Sweden. There are several situations in which leech therapy may be used.
Because leeches produce an anticoagulant and literally suck blood from the surface of skin, they are often used to revive delicate veins and improve blood flow following a tissue reattachment procedure.
It is claimed to have been the most common medical practice performed by surgeons from antiquity until the late 19th century, a span of over 2,000 years. In Europe, the practice continued to be relatively common until the end of the 18th century.
This is why salt is so damaging to leeches. Leeches’ skin, like slugs, is permeable. That’s why salt is so effective at killing leeches.
“Leeches and/or maggots are typically used by surgeons — general, plastic, trauma and orthopedic — as well as physicians specializing in wound care,” said Diana Grimmesey, RN. From reattaching severed fingers to treating infected wounds, the healing power of leeches and maggots is nothing short of amazing.
In most other parts of the world all medical practitioners, physicians and surgeons alike, are referred to as Dr while in the UK surgeons are usually referred to as Mr/Miss/Ms/Mrs. The possession of this degree, a doctorate, entitled them to the title of ‘Doctor of Medicine’ or Doctor.
of George Washington
On December 14, 1799, George Washington died at his home after a brief illness and after losing about 40 percent of his blood.
Leeching is not the outcome of the medieval period but has been in use during the times when there was no concept of the disease and medicament. The earliest clearly documented record of leeches being used for remedial purpose appears in a painting in an Egyptian Tomb of around 1500 BC.
The earliest clearly documented record of leeches being used for remedial purpose appears in a painting in an Egyptian Tomb of around 1500 BC. The journey of the leech therapy reached its zenith in 17th and 18th century AD in Europe while as during the Arab era the leeches were used medicinally but only for the bloodletting.
The leeches described for the medicinal use include mash colour leeches, blackish red leeches, liver colour leeches, yellow colour leeches, thin leeches resembling to mice tail etc. (Maseehi, 1986). The leeches became popular mode of bloodletting in 18th and 19th century AD.
Indeed, by the mid 1800’s the demand for leeches was so high that the French imported about forty million leeches a year for medical purposes, and in the next decade, England imported six million leeches a year from France alone, since the leech production from their own farm near Oxford were insufficient.