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Hirudotherapy-modern twist to ancient science and its relevance in maxillofacial region- A review article

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Dr. Tripthi, P. S. and Dr. Ashalatha, M.

Hematophagous animals that feed on prey blood are known to overcome blood clotting by producing in their salivary gland secretion many biologically active compounds, especially the anticoagulants. Amongst the blood-sucking organisms, leech is a distinct example which possesses a highly-developed mechanism by which they prevents blood clotting. Hirudotherapy (HT) is the application of medicinal leeches (Hirudo medicinalis) for therapeutic use. Through centuries, leeches have attracted the attention of therapists who employed leech therapy for a wide range of diseases. . Its major therapeutic benefits are not only due to blood sucked during the biting, but also from the various bioactive substances, such as Hirudin, calin, Hyaluronidase, and Histamine-like substances, to name a few.HT has been employed in various disease conditions and surgical complications. It has been successfully used in plastic and reconstructive surgeries, cardiovascular complications, varicose veins, haemorrhoids and various joint ailments. Presently it is also being utilized in gastrointestinal disorders, gynecological abnormalities and dermatology. More recently, HT has found new applications in cancer therapy, hypersensitivity conditions, like asthma, male/female sterility and diabetes. The current review summarizes the importance of leeches as a complementary source of medical therapy for a large number of ailments mostly highlighting its applications in maxillofacial region.

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