November 4, 2009
Leeches As Medicine Becoming A Booming Business
As the use of leeches in a variety of medical therapies is beginning to increase in popularity, an institution in Russia is hoping to cash in.
The International Medical Leech Center in Udelnaya refers to itself as the world's largest leech-growing facility.
Many experts and leading institutions have begun approving the use of leeches for medical procedures.
Earlier this year, the American Journal of Nursing confirmed a resurgence of leech therapy, primarily among patients who underwent plastic and reconstructive surgery.
In 2004, the US government approved the use of leeches for medical purposes.
Actress Demi Moore announced last year that she had undergone leech therapy in Austria in an effort to detoxify her blood.
"Now this is a scientifically proven form of healing," Gennady Nikonov, director of the International Medical Leech Center, told AFP.
"The leech is revealing more and more of its secrets to us," Nikonov said.
Nikonov's center is filled with glass jars containing leeches that are being grown for medical purposes.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the center had trouble paying employees, and Nikonov told AFP that "the building was falling apart."
But the use of leeches for medical purposes has since seen a resurgence, which has helped the center increase production tenfold since the Soviet Union collapse.
"Leech cosmetics, unlike the ordinary kind, heal the skin from within instead of just plastering over it," said Yelena Titova, lab director at the center.
"Here you have a whole factory of medicines, more than 30 components, and all created by nature," Titova said.
On the Net:
- International Medical Leech Center
- American Journal of Nursing
- Image Courtesy Karl Ragnar Gjertsen - Wikimedia Commons