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Type > Tools & Equipment > Leech cup

Accession # SRM1988-47.2

Leech cup

19th century


This glass jar was used to carry leeches which were then used to bleed an ill patient. A string would be pulled through the tail of a leech to keep it from getting lost in a body cavity. Their saliva contains an anesthetic and the anticoagulant, hirudin. The anesthetic prevents the person feeling the presence of the leech but was thought to be effective in controlling pain and ailments ranging from cancer to acne.




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