Leeches Are Your Friends
April 26, 2005 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Society has been using leeches among other things for bloodletting in order to treat diseases for thousands of years. In fact, the word leech may derive from the olde english word for physician. Leech treatment peaked in the early 1800's and then waned. But it's become fashionable again in recent times. FDA approval was given last year allowing leeches to be raised for medicinal use. So there's no need to be scared of them anymore. You can buy them in bulk for about $7 a suck pop and have them delivered in their own leech mobile home. Consider also replacing your viagra and massage oil.
posted by peacay (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A friend's wife is a dermatologist. She got a STAT call to report to the emergency room. They had someone who had just been brought in by his relatives. This man had not left his chair in his trailer for several years. He phone out for food and drink, and literally did not get up from his chair for several years. They needed a dermatologist because the lower half of his body was covered in moss, and they did not know what was underneath the moss.

Turns out that what was underneath the moss was a thriving colony of leeches. The little critters had kept everything clean and circulating for those years. Basically saved his life.

The story has apparently been written up in a dermatology journal, but I haven't seen it and don't have a link. It happened about ten years ago in Massachusetts.
posted by alms at 9:56 AM on April 26, 2005

Usually maggots keep people like that clean.

Maggot[doc] wound debridement is getting hip again.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:26 AM on April 26, 2005

Alms, that is easily the most disgusting story I've read in the last 20 years. Congratulations, and I'm glad I read it after finishing my lo mein.
posted by scratch at 11:05 AM on April 26, 2005

Ive gotten used to routine use of maggots postop for procedures where a flap can fail if the venous pressure is too high ie (breast reconstruction). it's also used after surgical replacement of digits. Leeches made the difference between success and failure for a man who had his penis reconstructed after it was mangled in a motorcycle accident.

We keep leeches in the med room, but a pharmacist (I'm pretty sure the pharmacist brushes the little leech-teeth just before) delivers them when we call.. a half hour before they're needed. The therapeutic use of leeches is seldom needed for more than a couple of days.

Maggots are very cool for debriding, but i puked the first time i changed a hip bandage where the maggots were doing their work; the previous shift "forgot" to mention them. Usually i love dark medical humour... but...
posted by reflecked at 11:19 AM on April 26, 2005

Another article, complete with pretty pictures (NSFL or W).

NSFL: Not Safe for Lunch
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:33 AM on April 26, 2005

Oh. My. God.
posted by AlexReynolds at 11:47 AM on April 26, 2005

scratch - didn't you see the news story about the woman who grew into her couch? The original story's dead, but here's some blogger's entry on it.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2005

In fact, the word leech may derive from the olde english word for physician

I move we revive this time-honored tradition.

"Got an appointment with my leech today."
posted by telstar at 11:49 AM on April 26, 2005

I think the maggots are sorta cool. Modern technology can't get near the amount of precision of those little buggers.
posted by Anonymous at 11:55 AM on April 26, 2005

I don't think I want any lunch now, thanks.
posted by warbaby at 12:14 PM on April 26, 2005

In fact, the word leech may derive from the olde english word for physician

You are confusing "physician" with "lawyer", I think.
posted by madman at 1:29 PM on April 26, 2005

posted by peacay at 2:08 PM on April 26, 2005

noun: bloodsucking aquatic worm

Sounds like a lawyer to me.
posted by alms at 6:23 PM on April 26, 2005

noun: bloodsucking aquatic worm

Sounds like a lawyer to me.

Come, now. I know lawyers who can't even swim.
posted by spazzm at 8:05 PM on April 26, 2005

cool, but sooo gross. I bet there are lots of ancient techniques/tools that would work nowadays--probably save money too.
posted by amberglow at 8:21 PM on April 26, 2005

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