Medicinal Leech

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Related to Medicinal Leech: Hirudo medicinalis

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 ?
The medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, is an ideal model for studying the basic processes behind neural regeneration, she notes.
By the mid-18th century, the practice was so widespread that the medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis, nearly became extinct and thus leech farming was introduced.
Anglers have discovered that the medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis) is particularly attractive to Rainbow Trout.
LEECH Used by doctors in the 18th and 19th centuries for blood letting, the medicinal leech is now rare in the UK,surviving in only 20 lakes -four of which are on Anglesey.
German researchers have found that treatment with the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis can provide rapid and extended relief of osteoarthritis pain.
And Dr Sawyer, who led an expedition into the heart of the Amazon jungle to find a rare species of medicinal leech to establish Biopharm, says many more uses will be found for substances naturally produced by the creatures.
The leech farm was created by former University of Wales, Swansea scientist Dr Roy Sawyer, who led an expedition into the Amazonian jungle to find rare medicinal leech specimens.
HELP is on the way for the brown hare, red squirrel, grey partridge, great-crested newt, medicinal leech, wild asparagus and fen orchid.