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Leeches can be used to bring circulation to areas of the body that have very poor circulation after an injury. If an injured part does not have adequate blood supply, sepsis may set in. Improved circulation prevents gangrene. Thus, leeches are valuable to promoting healing as they enable blood to get to where it is needed the most. An example is a crushed arm that prevents an adequate supply of blood from reaching the fingers. Leeches on the fingers would draw blood to the fingers until normal circulation can be restored.

Leeches secrete an anticoagulant (hirudin) that keeps the circulation in injured limbs and digits from gumming up during the healing process. Leeches are used in many modern orthopedic facilities for this purpose. In fact, a nurse friend of mine used to apply leeches to fingers and toes when she worked on an orthopedic unit. Leeches would be left on for specified periods of time. Fat leeches would be replaced with skinny ones. I remember reading somewhere that leeches also have a natural antibiotic that they release into the bloodstream.

Offered by Lyn.