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Applications of Medicinal Leeches

Clinical use of Medicinal Leeches
Veterinary Medicine
Cosmetics and Pharmacology

Today, doctors use leeches for treating abscesses, painful joints, glaucoma, myasthenia, and to heal venous diseases and thrombosis. Medical leeches are used in plastic surgery, for improving blood circulation and for curing infertility.

The general indications for hirudotherapy are:

Inflammatory Reactions
Heart Diseases
Rheumatic Diseases
Tendovaginitis and Tendinitis
Venous Disease and Varicose Veins
Muscle Tension
Antidyscratic therapy ( blood purification and regeneration) of toxicoses and mental illnesses
Thrombosis and embolism
Passive congestions and spastic conditions
Vertebrogenic Pain Syndromes
Transudates and exudates

A simple principle lies at the heart of all hirudo-miracles. During the process of feeding, leeches secrete a complex mixture of different biologically and pharmacologically active substances into the wound. Hirudin is the best known component of leech saliva. Hirudin is sometimes used to describe all active substance in leech saliva. In reality, Hirudin refers only to one specific active substance in leech salive. Components of Medicinal leech saliva that exert effects in the host's body are:


Inhibits blood coagulation by binding to thrombin


Inhibits blood coagulation by blocking the binding of von Willebrand factor to collagen. Inhibits collagen- mediated platelet aggregation


Monomerizing activity. Dissolves fibrin. Thrombolytic effects


Inhibits kallikrein, trypsin, chymotrypsin, neutropholic cathepsin G


Anti-inflammatory. Inhibits trypsin, plasmin, acrosin


Increases interstitial viscosity. Antibiotic

Tryptase inhibitor

Inhibits proteolytic enzymes of host mast cells


Anti-inflammatory. Inhibit the activity of alpha-chymotrypsin, chymase, substilisin, elastase, cathepsin G

Factor Xa inhibitor

Inhibits the activity of coagulation factor xa by forming equimolar complexes

Complement inhibitors

May possibly replace natural complement inhibitors if they are deficient

Carboxypeptidase A inhibitors

Increases the inflow of blood at the bite site

Histaminelike substances

Vasodilator. Increases the inflow of blood at the bite site



Anesthetics substances



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