Hirudotherapy or treatment with medical leeches, which dates back 2500 years, has been called "living healers" leeches. They were used to shed blood in ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Babylon and throughout the ancient world. Hieroglyphs with healing leeches have been found in many places. Cleopatra, famous for her beauty, used the healing properties of medical leeches for her beauty treatments. Medicinal leeches are also known to the ancient Greeks. In Roman times, Galen (130 AD 201 AD) used leeches because he believed that by releasing blood he would get rid of the imbalance of the four moods (blood, lymph, yellow and black bile) in the human body. It is mentioned in the Bible and the Qur'an as "living healers."
Leech treatment was very popular in the Middle Ages, administered by Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Hippocrates. In his book Al-KANUN Fi Al-Tibb (Canon of Medicine), Avicenna (980-1037) provides a detailed knowledge of the treatment of leeches. Surgical therapy was practiced in 1800 by French doctors for the treatment of various diseases. Medicinal leeches have been used by plastic surgeons in recent years. They use leeches to alleviate venous congestion, especially in transplant surgery. Our medical leeches produce a number of substances, especially hirudin and histamine.
These substances are responsible for suppressing blood clotting, have an analgesic effect, extend the effect on muscles and regulate the immune system. The aim of this study is to investigate the history and therapeutic applications of treatment with leeches from ancient times to the present. Bleeding is one of the oldest and most common therapeutic methods in Mesopotamian, Egyptian, Greek, Greco-Roman and Byzantine medicine. The methods used were bilingual and the treatment with leeches. Each method is used under different conditions, depending on the amount of blood to be removed and some important organs affected. Medical leeches have been used to treat many diseases since ancient times.
The word "Leech" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word "laece" which means "doctor". Hirudotherapy, which means treatment with leeches in Latin, has been a treatment tool used by doctors for centuries. The first use of leeches for medical purposes can be seen in the murals of an Egyptian tomb (1567-1308 BC). The first written record of their use in medicine was given to Nicander de Colophain (200-130 BC) in his medical poem Alexipharmaca. The therapeutic use of leeches was also reported by Themison of Laodicea, a student of Asclepiades. in the year 50 BC. (4). Dr. Pliny states that it provides facial relief by removing excess blood from the human body and also demonstrates methods of administration with leeches.
He pointed out that changes in the balance of these fluids cause disease. Leech treatment restores the balance of the four moods and ensures the restoration of body balance. In the same century, another Dr. Menemaco used leeches for therapy. Oribasius, a physician in the fourth century, was treated with leeches. Oribasius, Paul Aegina and Aetius of Amida reported in their works that Antylus, the surgeon, also administered therapy with leeches. Alexander of Tralles (525-605) suggests the use of medical leeches in some hearing loss and in the treatment of "melancholy".
In ancient times, doctors recommended this therapy because they believe that melancholy develops as a result of the accumulation of black bile in the brain or the whole blood flow. In the sixth century AD. Aetius from Amida mentions the application of leeches to eye disease, which he calls "onchia", creating a circle around the iris of the eye, due to the development of an ulcer in the deep layers of the eye. which is caused by an imbalance of body fluids, especially imbalance in the blood. Paul Aegina, in the seventh century, mentioned the use of leeches in the treatment of many diseases. He benefited from the use of medical leeches, especially in the headaches he calls "headaches" and eye diseases known as "amourozis" and "ophthalmia", as well as sore throats.
Nowadays, surgical therapy is a tribute in Russia, where many of the diseases are treated with medical leeches. Another little known fact is that the famous Russian surgeon Pirogov used the healing effect of leeches and helped them. Leech therapy is also used in Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, the Middle East. Ayurveda places medical leeches in a special place. In the recent past, even in Bulgarian folk medicine, they used leeches in many cases. In the Islamic world, where Hijama therapy is well known, medical leeches are administered with confidence.