The leech was indispensable in 19th Century medicine for bloodletting, a practice believed to be a cure for anything from headaches to gout. Leeching was largely abandoned as medical science advanced. Dr. Samuel Hahnemann, who first condemned the method of using leeches in treating the patients.
While mentioning in aphorism 74 of his Organon of Medicine – the worst kinds of chronic diseases are those produced by the unskillfulness of allopathic physicians – he stated:
… Among chronic diseases we must still, alas! reckon those so commonly met with, artificially produced in allopathic treatment by the prolonged use of violent heroic medicines in large and increasing doses, by the abuse of calomel, corrosive … venesections [‘shedding streams of blood’ in the Sixth Edition], leeches, … &c., whereby the vital force is sometimes weakened to an unmerciful extent, …
Every creature of God has its use also, and the leech – a worm that attaches itself to the skin and sucks blood – is now proving it anew. Anti-clotting substances in the leech’s saliva can be used in humans to prevent the blood clots that lead to heart attacks, say researchers. This may be used in plastic and reconstructive surgery too.
With the help of genetic engineering, researchers can make large quantities of leech saliva. Named hirudin (from European leech – Hirudo medicinalis), the drug is produced by many pharmaceutical companies worldwide.
Anticipating the side effects of this medicine, there may be cases of haemorrhages, and we know our vast materia medica is having many drugs those can be used to treat such cases.
In Boericke’s Materia Medica and Clarke’s Dictionary, we find a remedy mentioned Sanguisuga or Hirudo Officinalis – can be used in haemorrhages. But we must have a fully proved drug from leeches to know its complete Pathogenesy and Symptomatology!
Dr. Anil Singhal
Dr. Poonam Singhal
by Sub-editor ( Author at Spirit India )
Posted on July 5th, 2002 at 12:00 am.
Last updated on October 12th, 2011 at 10:55 am.
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