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Pharmacy leech jar, England, 1830-1870

Science Museum, London
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Credit: Pharmacy leech jar, England, 1830-1870. Science Museum, London. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

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Leeches were used in bloodletting – a practice once carried out to treat a wide range of diseases and medical conditions. This jar was used to hold leeches which would have been on sale to medical practitioners. They are a type of worm with suckers at both ends of the body although only the frontal sucker, which has teeth, is used to feed. Once attached to a living body, they feed on blood. They can live for quite a while between meals, so the lid has holes in the top to allow air into the jar. Leeches were such a popular treatment that by 1830 their demand outstripped the supply. Leeches are again being used today following plastic and reconstructive surgery as they help restore blood flow and circulation. maker: Unknown maker Place made: England, United Kingdom


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