Leeches are 'worms' with suckers on each end. Leeches can range in size from
from a half of inch to ten inches long. They are brown or black in colour. Some feed on decaying plant material. Others are parasites, feeding on blood and tissue of other animals.
Blood-sucking leeches suck your blood using two ways: they use a proboscis to puncture your skin, or they use their three
jaws and millions of little teeth. They live just about anywhere where is water. Leeches find you by detecting skin oils, blood, heat, or even the carbon dioxide you breathe out.
Leeches do not feed often. This is because they take in a big amount of blood when they
Doctors often used leeches in the past to draw blood. Some barbers used leeches to do surgery as well as cutting
hair. When a barber finished surgery, he would take the bloody bandage and wrapped it around a pole to show he did surgery, too. Thatís how the
the white and red swirled barber pole came into use.
Today, maggots and leeches are being used for different reasons. Scientists are studying leech saliva. They believe the substance that stops or prevents blood clots will one day be able to be used on humans. Researchers have also identified several medical compounds which can be developed from leech saliva. The anticoagulant and clot-digesting properties of these substances make them potentially useful as drugs for the treatment of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes. Leeches can be "milked" for their secretions without being harmed, and research is continuing into the possibility of synthetically engineering leech saliva.
But leeches are still being used to suck blood! Doctors are now turning to leeches to help restore blood circulation to grafted tissue and reattached fingers and toes.
For example: microsurgeons in a Boston hospital used leeches to save the ear of a 5 year old boy that had been bitten off by a dog. The leech can remove any congested blood to allow normal circulation to return to the tissues, thus preventing gangrene from
Today, hundreds of thousands of
leeches are sold in USA to hospitals,clinics and individuals.The European market
is much bigger: millions of leeches are sold every year.
Leeches - Home Page
Leeches and a History of Medicine
approved leeches for therapy
Buy Leeches - Pricing
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