Shui Zhi, Medicinal Leeches, Hirudo Medicinalis
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Common Name: Medicinal Leeches
Chinese Name: Shui Zhi 水蛭
Latin Name: Hirudo Medicinalis
Other Name: European Medicinal Leech, Hirudo Orientalis, Hirudo Troctina, Hirudo Verbana, Hirudinaria Manillensis, Macrobdella Decora, 蚂蟥
Origin: Anhui, Hebei, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Shandong, Zhejiang Province, China
Storage: Keep in cool, dry and no light place
More About This TCM (In English):
Medicinal leeches, Hirudo medicinalis, produce a number of compounds in their salivary glands that help with the process of bloodletting from their hosts, known as hirudotherapy. They produce anesthetics, so the host will be less likely to notice as the leech attaches to them. Also in the mixture are compounds that keep the blood from clotting, so it will flow more freely into the leech. The blood continues to remain unclotted, even after the leech has detached. There are some disadvantages to using live leeches for anticoagulation, since they can introduce bacteria into the wound.
Medicinal leeches have been found to secrete saliva containing about 60 different proteins. These achieve a wide variety of goals useful to the leech as it feeds, helping to keep the blood in liquid form and increasing blood flow in the affected area. Several of these secreted proteins serve as anticoagulants (such as hirudin), platelet aggregation inhibitors (most notably apyrase, collagenase, and calin), vasodilators, and proteinase inhibitors. It is also thought that the saliva contains an anesthetic, as leech bites are generally not painful.
The compound in the saliva that is the most specific for anticoagulation is the peptide hirudin. This is a chain of 65 amino acids, first discovered in 1884. It was not until 1976 that the structure was determined. Leeches only have a small amount of this compound in their saliva, and there are several different forms of hirudin mixed together. Most of the pure compound used medically is derived from genetically engineered peptide. Blood clotting involves the conversion of soluble protein called fibrinogen to the insoluble mesh fibrin. This reaction is catalyzed by an enzyme called thrombin, which is a protease and can cleave other proteins. When thrombin is inactivated, fibrin does not form and the blood no longer clots.
Read More Info. About It (In Chinese 中文介绍):
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