Jun 28, 2009

Medicinal & Disciplinary Leeches

Steve was hiking the Beaver Trail just outside Ottawa, Canada, when he saw this leech swimming across open water. So he leaned out over the wooden bridge he had been crossing and snapped this shot.

There are over 600 identified species of leeches in the world, but only 15 are used in medicine. They've been used for such purposes since ancient times, and are still used very effectively to treat abscesses, painful joints, glaucoma, myasthenia, and to heal venous diseases and thrombosis, to name a few.

I intend to use them to discipline my children. Letting a few of these loose in the bath water might teach the kidlets to clear their plates after supper.

Thanks for the photo, Steve.


Anonymous said...

I HATE leeches.

One time swimming in a lake at Girl Scout camp, I emerged only to find a small animal attached to my leg. The leader told me it was a leech and prepared to take it off. I was expecting excruciating pain and a large piece of flesh to be torn from my precious limb.

Turned out it was a snail.

April Lorier said...

My grandmother used to use leeches for medicinal purposes. I thought it was gross THEN, and even grosser NOW! But I understand the practicality of their use.

Tiffany said...

I adore leeches!

When I was a teenager I kept a "white trash aquarium" complete with crayfish and a long, slithery leech. It reminded me of an eel/ribbon dancer. So cool to watch in action.

Crawdaddies didn't fare so well, though.

niner said...

Great story, Anon! That made me laugh. =P

Unknown said...

"white trash aquarium"??? Never thought about that! maybe I will suggest that to the 11 year old next time she wants fish!!!

linty said...

We had an aquarium like that in one of my science classes except that we had a dragonfly nymph thrown into the mix which ate EVERYTHING including the leech.

tres said...

I once found a leech and tried to keep it, but as much as I tried it simply would not feed on my blood. Since I didn't know whose blood it WOULD feed on, i had to let it go.

Raging Wombat said...

Tres, you can look at that one of two ways: 1) you've been rejected by a leech, and that's hurtful, or, 2) you're leech-proof, which borders on superhero ability.

booge said...

Glaucoma? You mean they let leeches suck out people's eye juice? Eye humor? That is straight-up ill.

Here's a link to a UCLA Biomedical Library Department of Special Collections online exhibit on bloodletting and leeches, if you're interested. Also icky and/or interesting. In an old-timey kind of way.

Anonymous said...

On a camping trip as a young child I went swimming in a bayou that happened to be infested with leeches. I didn't realize what they were at the time, but did catch one to show my dad. As I ran up the bank to show my new little friend to him, I noticed that several of his brethren appeared to be attached to my legs.

Fortunately, Dad had some WD-40, which when applied to my little pet's sister and brother leeches caused them to drop off.