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HIRUDOTHERAPY

Other Names:

Hirudin, Hirudo medicinalis, Hirudoterapia, Hirudothérapie, Leech, Leech Anticoagulants, Leech Saliva, Leech Therapy, Leeches Medicinalis, Medicinal Leeches, Sangsue Anticoagulante, Sangsue Médicinale, Sangsue Officinale, Thérapie par les Sangsu...
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HIRUDOTHERAPY Overview
HIRUDOTHERAPY Uses
HIRUDOTHERAPY Side Effects
HIRUDOTHERAPY Interactions
HIRUDOTHERAPY Overview Information

Hirudotherapy is a medical treatment that uses leeches. Leeches are freshwater worms that suck blood or eat flesh. Hirudotherapy developed after J. B. Haycraft discovered in 1884 that a certain leech species produces a powerful chemical that thins blood.

At first, leeches were used for a long list of conditions including headache, gangrene, and “imbalances of the humors.” Today, hirudotherapy is used for treating redness and swelling (inflammation), grafting skin, and restoring blood vessels and circulation.

Hirudotherapy is approved as a medical therapy by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Companies that raised and marketed leeches before 1976 in the U.S. are permitted to continue doing so. However, those marketing leeches after 1976 are required to get FDA approval.

How does it work?

Hirudotherapy or leech therapy is used for conditions where blood clots or blood pooling is a problem. When people have skin grafts, blood pooling or clotting can decrease tissue healing. Leeches secrete a natural blood thinner that helps keep the blood flowing and improves survival of the tissue.

HIRUDOTHERAPY Uses & Effectiveness What is this?

Likely Effective for:

  • Skin grafts. Hirudotherapy or leech therapy is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medical therapy.

Insufficient Evidence for:

  • Swelling (inflammation).
  • Improving blood circulation.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of hirudotherapy for these uses.


HIRUDOTHERAPY Side Effects & Safety

Hirudotherapy or leech therapy is safe when used appropriately by a medical professional. Leech therapy is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved medical therapy.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Not enough is known about the use of hirudotherapy during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

HIRUDOTHERAPY Interactions What is this?

We currently have no information for HIRUDOTHERAPY Interactions

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Conditions of Use and Important Information: This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified health care provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor or health care professional before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your health care plan or treatment and to determine what course of therapy is right for you.

This copyrighted material is provided by Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Consumer Version. Information from this source is evidence-based and objective, and without commercial influence. For professional medical information on natural medicines, see Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Professional Version. © Therapeutic Research Faculty 2009.

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