L E E C H T H E R A P Y
Leech? – Generally the first reaction: Ohhh, they are gross!
Leeches are definitely not gross. On the contrary, they have colorful texture, are elegant swimmers and most important of all, possess incredible healing powers, which are known for centuries. Even around 3300 B.C. in Mesopotamia, people already knew about and benefitted from those healing powers.
Today, leech therapy tend to regain its popularity through the latest medical research being conducted in trauma surgery (e.g. replantation surgery), cardiovascular diseases (e.g. thrombophlebitis), and diseases of musculoskeletal system (e.g. joint diseases).
A single leech is like small drug store. Its saliva contains various substances, among which the blood anticoagulant hirudin and calin, anti-inflammatory proteins eglin, and bdelline and many other additional components with diverse healing properties.
Which Effects does Leech Therapy have?
The leech therapy belongs to the group of humoral therapies. The focal point of such therapies is eliminating the congesting barriers and pains that occur due to blood or lymph edema.
This is achieved by placing a leech (Hirudo medicinalis officinalis) on the skin over the targeted area. An additional injection containing the same healing substances found in the leech, improves the effectivity of the therapy through its analgesic (pain-relieving), anti-inflammatory, and connective tissue supporting effects.
Leech therapy affects your body in three steps:
- The suction: A leech can suck maximum 10 ml. of blood
- The Bleeding: After the removal of the leech, the wound is let bleed for maximum 24 hours. The blood loss is 30 to 40 ml. at most.
- The Secretion: the leech secretes its saliva into the wound. This saliva has among many others blood diluting, pain relieving, and anti-inflammatory effects.
As a result of these three steps, many diseases with congestive character (e.g. edema) and inflammatory processes may be healed. Among many others arthrosis and abscesses are very good examples to the disease which can effectively be cured by leech therapy.
How is Leech Therapy Applied?
Leeches are kept in special jars, which are placed exactly on the targeted spots on the skin. That way, they are kept from moving around freely.
A single therapy session takes between 60 to 90 minutes. Depending on the type of the indication (complain), a single therapy may be sufficient and it can be repeated any time in the future when necessary. If needed more than one leech may be placed on the skin simultaneously. After the placing of the leech, it sucks the target spot strongly. The bite of the leech feels like a pinch on the skin and is not so painful. As the leech sucks up to its limit, it loosens itself off the skin and detaches.
Patients can feel the healing effects of the therapy right away and these effects often stay for long periods of time, depending on the health issue, several months.
Which Leeches are used?
Currently, the leeches used for therapeutical applications are special breed cultured species and due to hygienic reasons, can only be applied once.
According to the regulations, the used leeches should be terminated after the therapy in order to prevent the transfer of the infections. After the therapies, leeches are frozen in fridges. Since leeches don’t have cold receptors, this is the most humane way available.
You shouldn’t wear perfumes, body lotions, or deodorants before the session. Because leeches do not bite if they smell strange odors. They suck most effectively when they smell your natural body smells or sweat.