A large European leech formerly used in medicine for bloodletting. After biting it secretes an anticoagulant to ensure the flow of blood.
- Hirudo medicinalis, family Hirudidae.
- In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Europeans considered leeches a panacea, and used billions of European medicinal leeches for everything from obesity to headaches.
- There are many similar records of incredible numbers of medicinal leeches being used across Europe.
- The medicinal leech almost became extinct in Europe due to the extremely high demand for them.
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