Hektoen International

A Journal of Medical Humanities

Tag: Hirudo medicinalis

  • The leech makes a comeback

    Meryl SigatonCity of Silay, Philippines Leeches (hirudo medicinalis) are invertebrates of the phylum Annelida whose main diet is blood. They are hermaphrodites and carnivorous, having 700 species that thrive in a variety of environments. Most of them are small, weighing less than 1–1.5 g before feeding, but some may reach a length of twelve centimeters.…

  • Medicinal leeches in art and literature

    Martin DukeMystic, Connecticut, United States For more than two thousand years, the extraordinary blood-sucking abilities of the medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis) provided physicians with an unusual if not bizarre alternative to venesection, cupping, and scarification for blood-letting their patients (Figure 1). This therapeutic use of leeches was described in the writings of Hippocrates, Galen, Nicander…