Hirudotherapy - An Austrian History Lesson

Posted by Jelio Mir on

Medical leeches - living medicines
History of leech therapy
The application of leeches is a very old therapy. The first written references can be found in the Ebers papyrus from the 16th century BC. In ancient Indian medicine leeches had a firm place for millennia, Dhanvantari, the god of Ayurveda, carries a leech in one of his four hands. Galenos von Pergamon (129–199 AD) integrated the concept of bleeding into his teaching and recommended the use of leeches for eye infections, nosebleeds, amenorrhea, angina and varicose veins.
Leech therapy experienced its heyday in the 19th century, the leech demand reached gigantic proportions. Natural stocks have been decimated, prices have risen many times, and tons of Hirudines have been exported to high-price countries. In order to ensure the supply of the population, the export was banned and the court decree of February 27, 1823, stipulated that the tax on leeches in pharmacies should be recalculated annually according to the local conditions in each province.

In 1832, one leech cost 3 ¾ cruisers, which is equivalent to around € 1.40 today
(see "The purchasing power of old Austrian currencies since 1820" so-called INFLATIONSCOCKPIT of the OeNB)

With the end of the 19th century, leech therapy lost its importance because it was rejected by the emerging scientific medicine. Egel therapy has been experiencing a real renaissance for several years and is now even used in modern accident and transplant surgery. Leeches are considered living medicines and even have a central pharmaceutical number.