Medicinal leech

 If a Leech be Accidentally Swallowed

If a leech be accidentally swallowed, or by any means should get into the body, employ an emetic, or enema of salt and water. 


 After Leeches Come Away

After leeches come away, encourage the bleeding by flannels dipped in hot water and wrung out dry, and then apply a warm spongiopiline poultice. If the bleeding is not to be encouraged, cover the bites with a rag dipped in olive oil, or spread with spermaceti ointment, having previously sponged the parts clean. 


 Quantity Removed

Leeches are supposed to abstract about two drachms of blood, or six leeches draw about an ounce; but this is independent of the bleeding after they have come off, and more blood generally flows then than during the time they are sucking. The total amount of blood drawn and subsequently lost by each leech-bite, is nearly half an ounce. 


 When applied to the Gums

When applied to the gums, care should be taken to use a leech glass, as they are apt to creep down the patient's throat: a large swan's quill will answer the purpose of a leech glass. When leeches are gorged they will drop off themselves; never tear  them off from a person, but just dip the point of a moistened finger into some salt and touch them with it. 

Ill-Nature Sucks Poison from the Sweetest Flower.]


 Leeches and their Application

The leech used for medical purposes is called the hirudo medicinalis  to distinguish it from other varieties, such as the horse-leech and the Lisbon leech. It varies from two to four inches in length, and is of a blackish brown colour, marked on the back with six yellow spots, and edged with a yellow line on each side. Formerly leeches were supplied by Lincolnshire, Yorkshire, and other fenny countries, but latterly most of the leeches are procured from France, where they are now becoming scarce. 


 When Leeches are Applied

When leeches are applied to a part, it should be thoroughly freed from down or hair by shaving, and all liniments, &c., carefully and effectually cleaned away by washing. If the leech is hungry it will soon bite, but sometimes great difficulty is experienced in getting them to fasten. When this is the case, roll the leech into a little porter, or moisten the surface with a little blood, or milk, or sugar and water. Leeches may be applied by holding them over the part with a piece of linen cloth, or by means of an inverted glass, under which they must be placed. 


 After Leeches have been Used

After leeches have been used they should be placed in water containing sixteen per cent. of salt, which facilitates the removal of the blood they contain; and they should afterwards be placed one by one in warm water, and the blood forced out by _gentle_ pressure. The leeches should then be thrown into fresh water, which is to be renewed every twenty-four hours: they may then be re-applied after an interval of eight or ten days, and be disgorged a second time. The best plan, however, is to empty the leech by drawing the thumb and forefinger of the right hand along its body from the tail to the mouth, the leech being firmly held at the sucker extremity by the fingers of the left hand. By this means, with a few minutes' rest between each application, the same leech may be used four or five times in succession. 


 When Bleeding Continues

When bleeding continues from leech-bites, and it is desirable to stop it, apply pressure with the fingers over the part, or dip a rag in a strong solution of alum and lay over them, or use the tincture of sesquichloride of iron, or apply a leaf of matico to them, placing the under surface of the leaf next to the skin, or touch each bite with a finely-pointed piece of lunar caustic, or lay a piece of lint soaked in the extract of lead over the bites; and if all these tried in succession fail, pass a fine needle through a fold of the skin so as to include the bite, and twist a piece of thread round it. Be sure never to allow any one to go to sleep with leech-bites bleeding, without watching them carefully; and never apply too many to children; or place them where their bites can be compressed if necessary. In other words, never apply leeches to children except over a bone