✵The article gives records of the herb Leech, its English name, Latin name, property and flavor, its herbal classic book defined source three animal species, ①.Whitmania pigra Whitman., ②.Hirudo nipponica Whitman., ③.Whit-mania acranulata Whitman., with a detailed introduction to the features of these three animal species, the life habits, and ecological environment of these three animal species, the features of the herb Leech, its pharmacological actions, medicinal efficacy, and administration guide.
Pin Yin Name: Shuǐ Zhì.
English Name: Leech.
Latin Name: Hirudo.
Property and flavor: neutral in nature, salty, bitter, toxic.
Brief introduction: The herb Hirudo is the dried body of Whitmania pigra Whitman, Whitmania acranulata Whitman, or Hirudo nipponica Whitman, used to break stasis and reduce swellings for the treatment of severe cases of blood stasis, such as hematoma, amenorrhea, gynecological masses, and contusions. The herb is commonly known as Hirudo, Leech, Shuǐ Zhì.
Source: Herbal classic book and other famous herbal classics defined the herb Hirudo (Leech) as the dried body of the species (1). Whitmania pigra Whitman., (2). Hirudo nipponica Whitman., (3). Whit-mania acranulata Whitman. They are small animals of the Hirudinidae family of the Rhynchobdellae order. These 3 commonly used species are introduced:
(1).Whitmania pigra Whitman.
Description: It is commonly known as Mǎ Huáng, or Kuān Tǐ Jīn Xiàn Zhì. The body is slightly fusiform (spindle-shaped) and flat. It is 60~120 mm long, and 13~14 mm wide. The back is dark green, with 5 yellow-white streaks. The streaks are composed of a mixture of black and pale yellow streaks. Both sides of the ventral surface have 1 flaxen longitudinal grain respectively, the remaining part is hoary (off-white), miscellaneous, and has a tawny spot. The number of body rings is 10. The band is conspicuous. The male and female reproductive foramen are respectively located between the 33~34 and 38~39 ring furrows. The front sucker is small. The palatal tooth is underdeveloped, and does not suck blood.
The body length is slightly flat, at first glance it looks like a cylinder, the body length is about 2~2.5 cm, about 2~3 mm wide. The backside is greenish with black, with 5 yellow longitudinal lines, the ventral surface is flat, grayish-green, without motley spots, the overall ring pattern is prominent, the body segment is composed of 5 rings, and the width of each ring is similar. 10 eyes, in a ∩ shaped array, inside the mouth three semicircle jaws surrounded by a Y shape, when sucking the animal body, it uses this jaw to drill into the skin, to absorb blood, from the pharynx through the esophagus, and store in the whole digestive tract and blind bag. Each segment of the body has a drainage hole, opening in the ventral side. Male and female genital foramen are 4 rings apart, each one opening between rings. The front sucker is easier to see, the back sucker is more conspicuous, and the adsorption is also strong.
Ecological Environment: It lives in rice fields, ditches, shallow water dirty pits, and other places, is not addicted to blood, is very agile, could wavy swim, also can make inchworm movement. In every warm spring, the leech jumps out, June to October is its spawning period, in the winter it is often dormant in the coastal wet mud, does not eat, does not move, strong survival ability.
Life habits: It lives in paddy fields, and rivers, the temperature over 35 °C (Celsius, or 95 degrees Fahrenheit) has an impact on its growth; The suitable temperature is 15~30 °C (Celsius, or 59~86 degrees Fahrenheit). In the lake, when the water temperature is lower than 10 °C (Celsius, or 50 degrees Fahrenheit), it stops growth. The suitable growing water temperature is 10~35 °C (Celsius, or 50~95 degrees Fahrenheit).
Herb Characteristics: The herb is flat fusiform (spindle-shaped) and consists of many nodes, 4~10 cm long, and 0.5~2 cm wide. The back is black-brown or dark brown, slightly lowered, with black spots arranged in 5 longitudinal lines, with clear water entry, the abdomen is yellow and flat, brown-yellow on both sides. The front end is slightly pointed, the rear end is blunt and round, and there is a suction cup at both ends, while the rear suction cup is large and conspicuous. The texture of the herb is crisp and easily broken. The herb has a fish odor, and it tastes salty.
Pharmacological actions: ①.reduce cholesterol and triglyceride content in blood; ②.inhibit the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin; ③.inhibit the activation of clotting factors and thrombin-induced platelet reaction; ④.anticoagulant effect; ⑤.prevent thrombosis and dissolve the thrombosis already formed; ⑥.promote the absorption of cerebral hematoma and subcutaneous hematoma, reduce the inflammation and edema around; ⑦.relieve intracranial pressure; ⑧.improve local blood circulation; ⑨.protect brain tissue and promote the recovery of nerve function.
Medicinal efficacy: Break blood stasis, stimulate the menstrual flow, remove blood stasis and eliminate abdominal mass. It is indicated for the treatment of abdominal mass and a lump in the abdomen, blood-retention, amenorrhea due to blood stasis, amenorrhea, tuberculosis due to dry blood, apoplexy and hemiplegia, injury of falling, eye pain, nebula (slight corneal opacity), etc.
Administration of Hirudo (Shuǐ Zhì):
Administration Guide of Hirudo (Shuǐ Zhì)
①.Internally: 1~3 grams; ②.Internally:prepare to pill, powder, 0.5~4 qian (about 1.5~12 grams). Externally:put at the diseased region and let it suck, or prepare infusion and dropping; ③.Internally:water decoction, 3~9 grams, or prepared to pill, powder, 0.5~1.5 grams each time, big dosage is up to 3 grams each time.
Contraindications, Precautions and Adverse Reactions:The herb Hirudo should forbidden using during pregnancy, or syndromes without blood stasis, menstruation and hemorrhagic tendency. Should not be prepared with lime(calcareousness) and salt.
(2).Hirudo nipponica Whitman.
Description: It is commonly known as Shuǐ Zhì. The body is slightly flat, at first glance it looks like a cylinder, the body length is about 2~15 cm, about 2 mm ~ 1.5 cm wide. The backside is greenish with black, with 5 yellow longitudinal lines, the ventral surface is flat, celadon (sage green, or grayish-green), without motley spots, the overall ring pattern is prominent, the body segment is composed of 5 rings, the width of each ring is similar. 10 eyes, a ∩ shaped array, inside the mouth three semicircle jaws surrounded by a Y shape, when sucking the animal body, with this jaw bites into the skin, the body is large, 60~120 mm long, 13~14 mm wide. The back is dark green, with 5 longitudinal lines, drawing blood from the pharynx through the esophagus and storing it in the whole digestive tract and the blind sac. Each segment of the body has a drainage hole, opening in the ventral side. Male and female genital foramen are 4 rings apart, each opening between rings. The front sucker is easier to see, the back sucker is more conspicuous, and the adsorption is also strong.
Ecological Environment: It lives in rice fields, ditches, shallow water dirty pits, and other places, is addicted to the blood of people and animals, is very agile, can travel in waves, and can also act a lochworm movement. It is active in every warm spring, June to October is the spawning period, and in winter it is often dormant in the coastal wet mud, does not eat, does not move, strong survival ability.
It lives in lakes, ponds, and paddy fields, in most areas of China. It is mainly produced in the Suzhou suburb, Wu county of Jiangsu. Besides, it is also produced in the upper, middle, and other lower reaches of the Yangtze River.
Life habits: Leech is a cold-blooded animal, which can grow and breed in both northern and southern areas of China. It mainly lives in reservoirs, ditches, paddy fields, and lakes, in freshwater, and most of them live in ponds rich in organic matter or rivers without pollution. The appropriate temperature for growth is 10~40 °C (Celsius, or 50~104 degrees Fahrenheit), in the northern region when the temperature in the soil is below 3 °C (Celsius, or 37.4 degrees Fahrenheit), is the dormant hibernation period, the next year March-April when the temperature is higher than 8 °C (Celsius, or 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit) or so it comes out of jellyfish activity. Leech is an omnivorous animal, feeding on the blood or body fluids of animals is the main way of its life. It often feeds on plankton, insects, and mollusks in the water. Under artificial conditions, it feeds on cooked egg yolks, compound feeds, plant residues, freshwater mollusks, miscellaneous fish, and earthworms.
Herb Characteristics: The herb is flat, long, and cylindrical, composed of many rings, many twists and curves, 2~5 cm long, and 0.2~0.3 cm wide. The back is dark-green or dark brown, with 5 yellow-brown vertical lines, which are easy to see when entering the water; The abdomen is celadon (grayish-green). The front end is slightly pointed, the rear end is blunt and round, and there is a suction cup at both ends. The rear suction cup is more remarkable, lighter, and crisp than the general one, and the fracture surface is gelatinous. The herb has a slight fishy odor.
(3).Whit-mania acranulata Whitman.
Description: It is commonly known as Liǔ Yè Mǎ Huáng, or Tawny leech, belongs to the family leeches, also known as cattle turtle, and has the characteristics of flat shape, brown and green color. Tawny leech is distributed in most areas of China.
The shape of it is similar to the willow leaf. The back is brownish green, with 5 fine greenish-black spots forming a vertical line; the ventral surface is light yellow, very flat, scattered with irregular dark green spots. The remainder is similar to the broad-body golden thread leech.
Herb Characteristics: The herb is long, narrow, flat, or linear, 8~12 cm long, and 1~5 mm wide. Both ends of the body are thin, and the surface is uneven. The dorsal and ventral surfaces are dark brown, and the suction cups are not easy to identify because there are small holes in both ends during processing. The texture of the herb is crisp, and the fracture surface is uneven and dull. The herb has a soil-fishy odor.