This week, I witnessed a very interesting medicinal practice and learned a lot. So I’ll talk a little about it – leech therapy. Leech therapy can be used for many procedures, but mostly in reconstructive therapies, such as plastic surgery, or minor surgeries like reattaching fingers or toes. Leech therapy is used to help start blood flow again and create vascularization. For example, in a procedure where a finger were to be reattached, you would probably reattach the finger first, then attach the leech. The leech’s saliva secretes a bit of an analgesic, meaning a pain reliever (which is really surprising, considering the fact that you lost a finger as well as having a leech suck on your finger) and also secretes an anticoagulant, which is what prevents blood clotting and helps to create this blood flow to help wounds heal. The leeches attach to the area, draw blood, then release proteins and improve circulation. Because these leeches are medicinal, the leeches should be brand new and meant for this purpose and this purpose only. Therefore the leeches are considered “clean.” As long as they have not been exposed to any bacteria or other blood, then it is okay. This is where the problem with leeches comes from – when you come into contact with leeches in the wild, this is where it is dangerous because they are exposing your blood and creating an area for open contact and environment for other bacteria and blood that may be contaminated which will cause an infection or problem. If this ever happens to you, you should not just pull it off, but instead use a fingernail or a credit card and swipe it off from there. Leech therapy still exists, but is rare and of course has its contraindications – it probably shouldn’t be used in immunocompromised, such as pregnant women or young kids. Overall, it is a very interesting practice and I’m lucky I was able to witness it!