Negotiations on the sale of leeches, which are artificially cultivated in Azerbaijan, inside and outside the country for the first time have been started, Director of the Institute of Zoology of the Azerbaijan’s National Academy of Sciences Elman Yusifov told Trend. According to Yusifov, one of local companies became interested in leeches that are cultivated by the Institute of Zoology. Under the service contract to be concluded with the company, the Institute of Zoology will cultivate leeches, after which the leeches will be sold to the company which will put them on the market. Leeches are expected to be cultivated and prepared for the sale in artificial lakes in the Institute’s Stronghold Practice Point of Agsu.
Yusifov emphasized that the Institute of Zoology was the first one in Azerbaijan that bred leeches artificially. More than 2,000 leeches are cultivated and handed over to the Institute’s Stronghold Practice Point of Mingachevir.
Noting that leeches have a very high growth capacity, the director of the Institute added that each leech makes 1-2 cocoons a year, while each cocoon gives 12-13 newborn leeches: "A thousand leeches become 15,000 by the end of a year, 350,000 by the end of the second year, and 5,000,000 by the end of the third year. The price of leeches varies from 0.50 to 2 manat inside Azerbaijan. However, this price is 8 euros abroad.”
Pointing out that leeches are on the verge of extinction, Yusifov noted that artificial breeding of leeches eliminates hunting for them.
"Dissemination of practice of artificial breeding of leeches would increase the source of income of our country as foreign countries are eager to purchase leeches from Azerbaijan. Currently, all leeches that are sold in the country and imported abroad, are collected from nature. Businessmen sell leeches mainly to Russia, Turkey and European countries. You can sell leeches if you breed them artificially, but it is not correct to sell them by hunting from the wild.”
Since ancient times, people treated diseases with leeches. Even nowadays, this method of treatment is successfully and widely used. We often squeamish about black, slippery, wormwood and bloodsucking leeches. However, these "nature doctors” cure such human organs that doctors are unable to cure. Even though they make an unpleasant impression, leeches have become a remedy for many human diseases nowadays.
It should be noted that leeches have been included in the "Red Book” since 1984. They are found in the wild only in southern Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Hungary, Israel and France. There are about 400 species of leeches in the world and 17 in Azerbaijan. Only three of these species (H. medicinalis f. orientalis, H. medicinalis f. officinalis, H. medicinalis f. medicinalis) are used in medicine. One of the best species of leeches in the world – Hirudo orientalis is found in Azerbaijan. There are also some leech species that are dangerous for humans and other creatures.
Therapy with leeches is called hirudotherapy. Various cardiovascular, urological, gynecological, skin, gastrointestinal diseases can be treated with leeches. According to Unar Abbasov, who is engaged in hirudotherapy, the treatment with leeches gives better effect in case of problems with blood clotting, as well as in the treatment of rheumatic and neurological diseases: "Leeches are used in the treatment of many diseases. They are one of the best prophylactic methods of stroke and heart attack. Leech therapy gives very good results in case of varicose and a number of gynecological diseases. This method of therapy is also successfully used in the treatment of hypertension. Leeches are the most effective means in case of many skin diseases as well. In the treatment of some diseases, leech therapy gives even better results than traditional medicine. It is possible to get the desired effect in the treatment of diseases occured because of the accumulation of toxins in the body. However, the desired effect is achieved later in certain genetic and oncological diseases. The treatment of some diseases is even unsuccessful. Therefore, it is important to pay special attention to the diagnosis of the disease. The use of this treatment method depends on an appointed diagnosis. As a result of a correct diagnosis, leech therapy gives very good effects.”
According to our interlocutor, leech therapy should be carried out by an experienced person: "Firstly, hirudotherapy must be appointed only by a doctor as there can be negative effects of leech therapy in some diseases. We are talking about some hemophilia, severe anemia, as well as allergic and oncological diseases. This therapy method also does not correspond to people suffering from hypertension (low blood pressure). Only an experienced doctor is able to carry out a hirudotherapy session at the proper level. And only an experienced doctor knows special points in the human body where leeches should be placed in order to get a therapeutic effect. These points are different in various diseases.”
Speaking about the benefits of the artificial breeding of leeches, Abbasov noted that this step will prevent firstly the spread of infectious diseases: "Leeches are normally used by taking from nature which reduces their number. But the artificial breeding will be useful. This is particularly important in terms of preventing the spread of infectious diseases such as hepatitis. If there are only a few leeches, one leech is used several times. Imagine, a leech that sucked harmful substances in a person's blood, is used for another person after a while. Of course, there can be the spread of infections rather than the treatment of diseases. So, I think that the method of artificial breeding must be definitely used. At the same time, it is important to cultivate leeches that are healthy and have a high bloodsucking ability. The artificial breeding of leeches is also used in international practice. In my opinion, the use of this method can be considered as an important step in our country as well.”
It is interesting, how will we benefit from the artificial cultivation of leeches, and especially their export from the economic point of view? Leading scientist of the Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Azerbaijan Institute for Scientific Research on Economic Reforms Parviz Heydarov emphasized that the sale of a leech, the price of which varies from 0.50 to 2 manat, to foreign countries for 8 euros is an income that is not inferior to oil and gold: "There are a lot of areas and such inconceivable sources of income in our country that we can get a large amount of foreign exchange by paying attention to them. In general, we approach the entrepreneurial activity in a very basic context. It is not a mystery that Azerbaijan has very rich flora and fauna. Those who want to engage in entrepreneurial activity can create a collaboration by contacting and conducting consultations with this or other scientific research institutes of ANAS specialized on different directions. So, they will get a big profit. For example, snake-venom and leech cultivation are areas that can bring a big profit. Actually, the interest of this or other local company in the leeches cultivated by the Institute of Zoology is belated. Yes, there is already everything in our nature. But we should not take advantage of their exploitation. We should use methods such as cultivation and artificial breeding. Joint activities of the relevant agencies and business circles in this direction can also give an important impetus to the development of employment.”