Medicinal Leech

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Medicinal Leech


(Hirudo medicinalis), an annelid of the class Hirudinea. Average body length, 12 cm.

The dorsal side of the medicinal leach is greenish, with orange stripes and black spots. The gullet has three toothed mandibles bordered by salivary ducts. The medicinal leech inhabits fresh waters in central and southern Europe and the Middle East. It feeds on the blood of large mammals that enter the watering places where it is found. The saliva of the leech contains hirudin, an anticoagulant, which causes the wounds inflicted by the mandibles to bleed for a long time. Medicinal leeches are used for therapeutic bloodletting and, in modern medicine, in the treatment of thrombophlebitis, hypertension, and prestroke conditions.


Ivanov, A. V. Promyslovye vodnye bespozvonochnye. Moscow, 1955. Zhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 1. Moscow, 1968.


References in periodicals archive ?
Serotonin also elicits swim motor programs in isolated nerve cords of the leech Hirudo medicinalis (23), similar to the results in the current study on M.
The saliva of Hirudo medicinalis, the medicinal leech, contains anticoagulant and analgesic substances thought to be responsible for the clinical effects.
Researchers are now studying a genetically engineered version of hirudin, a powerful blood thinner found in the saliva of the European leech Hirudo medicinalis.
German researchers have found that treatment with the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis can provide rapid and extended relief of osteoarthritis pain.
Mechanoreceptors, photoreceptors, and rapid conduction pathways in the leech, Hirudo medicinalis.
Whereas the human nervous system is woven from billions of cells, the nervous system of the leech species Hirudo medicinalis has about 13,000 cells, all of which scientists suspect are hard-wired to the point where any neuron can be labeled and identified from leech to leech.