Hirudotherapy from Past to Present

Berrin Okka 1 *
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1 Necmettin Erbakan University Meram Faculty of Medicine, Department of Medical History and Ethics, Konya, Turkey
* Corresponding Author
EUR J BASIC MED SCI, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp. 61-65. https://doi.org/10.21601/ejbms/9204
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Hirudotherapy which means the use of leech therapy dates as far back as 2500 years ago when they were used for bloodletting in ancient Egypt. During the Roman Era, Galen (130- 201 AD) used leeches because he believed that blood letting would rid the unbalance of the four humours (blood, phlegmon, black and yellow bile) in the human body. Leech treatments were very popular during the Middle Ages as applied by Ibn Sina (Avicenna). In his book ”Al-Qanun Fi Al-Tibb (the Canon of Medicine)”, Avicenna (980-1037 AD) gave detailed knowledge about leech therapy and instructions on leeching. Hirudotherapy was commonly practiced in the 1800’s by French physicians treating a variety of diseases. The medicinal leech has been used by plastic surgeons in recent years. They use leeches to relieve venous congestion, especially in transplant surgery. The leech produces a number of substances especially hirudin, calin, hylarunidase, histamine like vasodilators during biting. These substances are responsible for inhibiting blood coagulation, analgesic effect, dilating effect on muscles and regulation on immune system. The aim of this study was to explore the history and therapeutic applications of leech therapy from ancient times to present.


Okka B. Hirudotherapy from Past to Present. Eur J Basic Med Sci. 2013;3(3):61-5. https://doi.org/10.21601/ejbms/9204


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