Get Your Fresh Leeches

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For over 2,000 years, the practice of bloodletting was considered a normal medical treatment, often prescribed and performed by doctors. A good method was to apply leeches. There is some truth to its ability to reduce blood pressure, apparently, but no one really knew about hypertension back in those days. So it really didn’t offer much help for much of anything, and in fact it may have worsened some people’s conditions. (Mozart, for one, received bloodletting in his final days and it may have exasperated his condition.)

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On our recent “Gaziantep Trip” in southeastern Turkey, I saw my first leech vendor just outside a mosque. We were in Konya by this time on our return trip to Istanbul. They were very active in his glass jar, stretching and squirming blindly looking for some blood source to suck on. And while I thought, Surely this guy can’t be getting much business, can he? Even as I pulled out my camera for photo proof, someone strolled up and started haggling. He took 4 for 20 lira (about $10). Total bargain! Although I hear Walmart has them for $5. But they are Chinese leeches, so … meh.

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They came in this convenient to-go bottle.

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Honey? Yeah, I’m at the market. I picked up some yogurt and some olives, but leeches are on sale. How many do we want? … Yeah, I checked them. They seem fresh.

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Enjoy more posts from Southeastern Turkey! Click here for the Gaziantep trip.

For more articles and photo galleries about Turkey and Turkish culture, see The Mad Traveler home site.

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