Therapy in Modern Medicine
the early 1900's the use of leeches began to decrease as
medicine advanced. Using leeches for treatment began to be seen as
the mechanisms of disease became better understood. However, during the
1980's the medicinal leech made a return in medicine. This time it was
not for letting "bad blood" out, but for other reasons that proved to
be truly beneficial. In 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved
the commercial use of the leech for medicinal purposes.
leech is becoming more
and more popular in microsurgery for patients who must undergo limb
reattachments or skin drafts. The leech is applied to a reattached
digit or area of skin where it sucks out pooled blood and secretes the anticoagulant called
hirudin and a vasodilator. The removal of pooled blood promotes fresh
blood to enter the the delicate tissues. The blood thinner
secreted by the leech allows the wound to bleed for up to 48 hours,
which is beneficial for these delicate tissues as more oxygenated blood
is able to enter them. These tissues are much more
likely to survive and heal, ultimately saving limbs in many cases.
Leech therapy is also being used for people suffering from
osteoarthritis. The leech can reduce inflammation, and has the
potential to decrease or
completely eliminate pain in the affected areas.