Those beneficial Leeches again

Geoff Read at
Mon Sep 28 01:29:55 EST 1998

Hirudophilia.  Another press report, in a good month for leech publicists.

Vein hope.

               By Avirook Sen, Guwahati  

Doctors in India have found that leeches can relieve the worst effects of
varicose veins. 

Varicose veins occur when the one-way valves in the veins of the leg
malfunction. The resulting build-up of blood can lead to painful swelling
and ulcers. The usual treatment is to wear leg bandages, but this is often
uncomfortable and can lead to skin allergies. 

A team from the KEM Hospital and the Seth G. S. Medical College in Bombay,
led by R. D. Bapat, has found that medicinal leeches (Hirudo medicinalis)
are highly effective at removing blood from around the vein, avoiding the
need for bandages. Twenty patients had leeches applied to the area around
their varicose ulcers. The team reports in the Indian Journal of Medical
Research (vol 107, p 281) that the leeches cured the ulcers in all the
patients and reduced serious swelling in 18 of them. 

The researchers say that the treatment works because leeches prefer 
venous blood to the oxygen-rich blood that flows through arteries.

             From New Scientist, 26 September 1998


  Geoff Read < at>

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