Hirudotherapy (HT) is the application of medicinal leeches (Hirudo medicinalis) for therapeutic use. It is one of the oldest remedies, being employed by various medicinal practitioners. HT involves the attachment of cultured leeches onto the affected areas. Leech therapy involves an initial bite, which is usually a painless bite, followed by the sucking of 5 and 15 ml of blood. Its major therapeutic benefits are not only due to blood sucked during the biting, but also from the various bioactive substances, such as Hirudin, calin, Hyaluronidase, and Histamine-like substances, to name a few.
HT has been employed in various disease conditions and surgical complications. It has been successfully used in plastic and reconstructive surgeries, cardiovascular complications, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and various joint ailments. Nowadays, it is also being utilized in gastrointestinal disorders, dermatology and gynecological abnormalities.
More recently, HT has found new applications in cancer therapy, hypersensitivity conditions, like asthma, male/female sterility and diabetes. Taking into consideration all the facts, HT efforts should be made in optimizing the success of medicinal leech therapy in clinical and private practice.
Hirudotherapy, leech, annelid, saliva, bioactive, reconstructive surgery