20 facts about Leeches

11.Leeches do not have a respiratory system.
They absorb oxygen with their entire body surface.
12.Leech saliva has specific properties.
It contains hirudin, a substance that prevents blood from clotting, and histamine, which causes dilation of the blood vessels. The secretion of hirudin causes the blood absorbed into the digestive tract not to clot. This allows some parasitic leeches to feed "in reserve," so to speak - a medical leech, for example, only needs to attack its host twice a year.
13.Thanks to these properties of the saliva, leeches, especially the medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis), are used in hirudotherapy.
It is a treatment method known to humanity since the beginning of civilization.
14.The first cases of hirudotherapy were recorded in Ancient Egypt.
They are known from wall paintings dating back to the 18th Dynasty (1550-1292 BC). The medical use of leeches is reported in the earliest written sources by Nikander (2nd century BC) and from 1st century Chinese sources, Sanskrit, Persian and Arabic literature. The Romans gave leeches the name hirudo (which Linnaeus adopted for their description).
15.Pliny the Elder wrote that leeches suck blood and are helpful for "rheumatic pains and all kinds of ailments and fevers."
In June 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration approved leeches for medical use, recognizing them as a therapeutic agent.
16.More than a dozen species of leeches, primarily from the family Hirudinidae, are used for hirudotherapy.
The most commonly used species are Hirudo verbana - the Asian-Southern European, Hirudo trctina - the African species, Hirudo orientalis - the Asian species and Hirudo medicinalis - the medicinal leech, which is under strict species protection in many countries.
17.Individuals grown under sterile culture conditions are used for the treatment.
Approximately 0.015 g of hirudin can be obtained from one individual.
18.Hirudotherapy effectively treats or supports the treatment of many diseases.
These include:
  • diseases of the cardiovascular system
  • thromboembolic diseases
  • atherosclerosis
  • arterial hypertension
  • surgery and replantation
  • diseases of the nervous system
  • inflammatory processes
  • pain therapy
  • diseases of the genitourinary system
  • bacterial infections
  • dermatological diseases and cosmetology¬†
19.Leeches provide food for many aquatic and terrestrial animal species.
These include other leeches, crayfish, some species of aquatic insects and their larvae, fish, waterfowl, and some species of mammals.
20.Blood-sucking leech species carry pathogenic viruses and blood parasites.
By parasitizing fish, they cause significant damage to fish farming.

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20 facts about Leeches

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