Most folks consider the application of leeches for medicinal purposes to be representative of the dark ages of medicine, but it turns out they’re still used quite often around the world and right here in the USA for very legitimate reasons. I guess some things never really go out of style.
Leeches are already widely used in American hospitals, and companies that raised and sold them here before 1976 were allowed to continue doing so. However, the medical device law passed that year required newcomers to the field to seek approval.
For many people, leeches conjure up the image of Humphrey Bogart removing the bloodsuckers from his legs in African Queen, but FDA reports that leeches can help heal skin grafts by removing blood pooled under the graft and restore blood circulation in blocked veins by removing pooled blood.
Medicinal leeches – Hirudo medicinalis – normally make their home in fresh water.
In considering the Ricarimpex application, FDA said it analyzed the use of leeches in medicine, evaluated safety data provided by the firm and studied how the leeches are fed, their environment and the personnel who handle them.
This news should make the “natural remedy” fans happy. I mean, you can’t get much more natural than allowing living organisms to attach themselves to your wounds and suck out the bad blood. Here, apply two leeches and call me in the morning.