Leech therapy has been used as an efficient treatment for many diseases and disorders for hundreds of years now. Today, leech therapy also known as hirudotherapy is making a comeback in conventional medicine.
However, this specific therapy is applied only for specific health issues where it was scientifically proven that the therapy can help. It’s been 12 years since the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has approved the use of leeches for healing and prevention.
The Health Benefits of Leech Therapy
According to historical records, leech therapy was especially popular 3500 years ago. At this time, the therapy became popular worldwide. This trend continued and reached the highest level in the beginning of the 19th century when leeches were labeled as endangered species due to their use for medicinal purposes.
In the beginning of the 20th century the popularity dropped all of a sudden because it didn’t match the requirements of modern medicine.
However in the 1960s, leech therapy found its way back and many doctors started using it during surgical procedures and in cases of arthritis, migraines and vascular diseases. Medicinal leeches or Hirudo medicinalis are the leeches that are part of this therapy today.
This specific type of leeches has the ability to produce saliva that comes with more than 55 different types of proteins. Thanks to this process, the leeches are able to maintain the best liquidity of human blood and boost blood circulation in the area where they are used.
We have made a short list of cases where leech therapy is applied today.
- Cardiovascular Diseases
This term refers to a group of disorders that have impact on the work of the cardiovascular system especially on the arteries, veins and heart.
Hirudotherapy or medical leech therapy is often applied as an additional treatment or replacement for cardiovascular problems because the leeches’ saliva should be able to boost blood circulation and enhance hyperalgesia or improved pain sensitivity in connective tissues.
A scientific study conducted 5 years ago and revealed in the popular Alternative Medicine Review has shown that external leeching enhanced walking ability, eased pain and swelling and eliminated the discoloration in phlebitis patients (a health problem in which blood clotting occurs in the deep vein located on the legs). Researchers have used between four and six leeches directly to the affected area.
The saliva produced by leeches is very efficient in treating cardiovascular diseases and disorders because it comes with natural blood thinners and these thinners can prevent and heal blood clotting.
- Reconstructive Surgical Procedures and Microsurgery
Not every surgery is finished without side effects. In some cases people may experience bleeding that comes from small blood vessels. In case this is occurrence is not handled properly, tissue cells may die.
According to a huge number of physicians medicinal leech therapy is able to keep the tissues healthy during and after surgery.
When the surgical procedure begins, leech therapy acts by letting leeches absorb the drainage of blood that appears as a result of the work of surgeons. The saliva provides blood thinning effects which lower the chances of developing venous congestion a frequent problem related to reconstructive surgery and traumatic injuries that lead to cellular death, slowed down blood flow and edema.
The majority of people are worried about possible wounds that come in the form of letter Y caused by leech bite. However, doctors claim that even though these wounds appear in almost every case, they will eventually heal and won’t leave any mark to the skin.
Finally, leeches should be able to boost blood circulation after surgery. A scientific study revealed in the Journal of Plastic Surgery has confirmed that leeches can help with this task after surgery.
Eight years ago, More than 13% of deaths in the world were contributed to cancer. This is definitely shocking information, but what is even worse is that these figures are constantly growing each year.
Scientists believe that the mixture of numerous protease inhibitors, anticoagulants and other elements found in leech saliva should be able to replace cancer drugs.
A study has found that their saliva contains a compound called ghilanten which may prevent the emergence of prostate cancer, lung cancer, melanoma and breast cancer.
The salivary glands of leeches used for medicinal purposes also come with a peptide known as hirudin. This peptide provides great blood anticoagulant effects and may have anti-cancer properties too.
A scientific research revealed in the famous European Patent has shown that a synthetically-made hirudin injection has the ability to block the emergence of different tumor cells like those found in leukemia, lymphoma, sarcoma, pulmonary carcinoma, colorectal cancer and bladder cancer.
In addition, a study conducted 12 years ago has confirmed that thanks to hirudin leeches can block the growth of tumor and its spreading in the organs and blood.