Used medicinally for the purpose of phlebotomy (drawing blood) for millennia, and popularized for this use in the nineteenth century. Most historical uses are of dubious utility. Current use in microsurgery to reduce postoperative hematomas is quite legitimate and effective. Commercially available for medical purposes. Several anticoagulants, such as the antithrombin compound hirudin, have been extracted from salivary tissues and have biomedical/pharmacological use. Occasionally featured in motion pictures (e.g., Speed 2). ♦
North American medicinal leech
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