Assalaamu Alaikum,

Are there any stories or mentioning about the use of leeches as medicine in the time of the Prophet (s)? Someone told me that soldiers in the time of the Prophet (S) who came back from battle would have leech placed on their bodies followed by cupping to remove internal bleeding. Is this correct? Is there proof of leech therapy from the time of the Prophet(s)? I am really interested in knowing. Thank you in advance.


wa `alaykum salam,
I could not find any mention of leeches (`alaq) in the Hadith and Sira or of their purported use to remove internal bleeding from wounded soldiers. However, leeches have long been used in ancient Arabic medicine and they are indeed mentioned in the books of Ibn al-Baytar, Abu Bakr al-Razi and others. Ibn Sina in his Canon of Medicine said their action is deeper than that of cupping and they are recommended for skin ailments.

As for internal bleeding leeches are considered very dangerous agents of it if they get inside the body, mostly around the throat and palate in the above-mentioned sources as well as in modern medicine: “When they attach themselves to the epiglottis, trachea or bronchi, serious complications are likely” http://www.itg.be/itg/distancelearning/lecturenotesvandenendene/52_Ectoparasitesp9.htm

Today they are used for periorbital hematomas such as black eyes, for microsurgery and for limb reattachment surgery.

Hajj Gibril Haddad

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