Today, Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the world. Millions of people have been diagnosed with Diabetes and everyday, thousands more become part of this statistic.

A Quick Overview

Diabetes is a condition caused by the pancreas's failure to produce enough insulin. The difference between type 1 and type 2 is the degree of insulin depletion. In type 1 diabetes, the onset is usually early in childhood, where there is absolute depletion of insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the onset is usually in adulthood around the age of 45 or older; where insulin production occurs, but an insufficient amount of insulin is produced.

When we eat, sugar turns into glucose and enters our bloodstream and is distributed to our body cells. Glucose is the "food" that gives our cells energy to function and insulin is crucial for breaking down glucose into the form that our cells can use. Without insulin or with too little insulin, glucose will not be absorbed by our cells, and they in turn will have no or little energy.

In the above situation, glucose remains in the blood causing it to thicken, which can create complications in the body. Transporting blood from one organ to another requires more effort, resulting in the vessel walls thickening and becoming less flexible. The heart also becomes overworked with the effort required to pump blood around the body and of course, thickened blood struggles to pass through capillaries, let alone the smaller blood vessels. This alone compromises the blood supply to distal organs, let alone the fact that viscous blood can predispose a patient to develop blood clots, which can travel to major organs like the brain, heart and lungs causing a stroke, heart attack or lung embolism.

Leech Therapy: An Ancient Science

Leeches shown during treatment of varied conditions

Leeches shown during treatment of
varied conditions

Leech Therapy, also known as Hirudotherapy, is the treatment using medical leeches to assist various diseases. It is a therapy known since ancient times and remains very much in use today.

Hirudo Medicinalis is a species of leech used for medical applications, which are able to consume up to 15 ml of blood, therefore, therapists can use up to 12 leeches simultaneously or more, depending on the type of disease treated. When leeches bite, they inject their saliva into the wound. Their saliva contains enzymes, different chemicals and substances that bring about diverse therapeutic benefits for the patient.

Therapeutic Benefits for Diabetics

One of the most important substances recognised in leech salivary glands is Hirudin, a substance that suppresses the blood clotting mechanism. If you remember, it was mentioned earlier that Diabetes patients have viscous [thick] blood, which creates a higher risk of developing blood clots. Development and dislodgment of clots into the general circulation poses serious threats to anyone and can cause instant death, so the suppression of blood clotting is essential.

Hirudin also has a blood diluting effect, so apart from preventing blood clots; it also thins the blood, allowing the blood to circulate more easily, relieving pressure on the heart and blood vessels.


Benefits of Leech Therapy Treating Diabetes

Written Testimony by Mr. Hettig

Approximately 6 to 7 years ago, my doctor said I was going to be dead within 5 years from a heart attack if I didn't do something about my diabetes and start taking prescribed drugs.

My doctor was absolutely right, over the past 2 years my health deteriorated quite rapidly and I felt I didn't really want to do anything anymore. I became lethargic, experiencing unusual feelings creeping up to my heart. My toes, feet and legs began losing sensation and I experienced a major decline in my energy levels.

During the past couple of years, my legs became blotchy and dull in colour and my toes became dark red to nearly blue in colour. Each night over the last couple of years I have struggled getting to sleep, resulting in having to shake my legs for over 3 hours each night; trying to sleep.

During this period, I searched the internet to try and find solutions to my problems and as I Google searched diabetes and blood circulation, I realised the seriousness of how diabetes is the major cause of people losing their limbs. The main method to resolve this problem in diabetes was to simply amputate as there didn't appear to be too many other solutions. For my type 2 diabetes, I guess the process was to stick to medication, whether it was metphormine or other pills I was prescribed, then I was informed that at some stage down the track, I would have to take insulin, following which there would be a time I would require dialysis with eventual possibilities of still losing my limbs. This seemed to be the only direction I was going to go down barring of course the couple of other solutions that surgery can perform such as stomach stapling and other forms of surgery that required going under the knife.

While exploring further options, another interesting method kept popping up which came under the name of Leech Therapy [or Hirudotherapy]. I studied this form of therapy with great interest as I saw very few negative comments on the process and which seemed to be very effective. However, I only saw countries like Russia, Indonesia and India performing this therapy. I guess the thing that scared me the most was the fact I wasn't familiar enough with these countries to trust in their health systems.

I couldn't find anything on-line available in our major western countries like America or Australia let alone here in New Zealand and yet I saw that hospitals stored leeches for skin graft purposes in these countries. This quietly excited me but when I enquired at a couple of hospitals both here in New Zealand and in Australia, none of them were offering leeches to the public whatsoever and they in fact discouraged it. This was frustrating to say the least.

It was by chance late last year [2009] I happened to find a website on Leech Therapy of a private therapist running a practice in Sydney. I looked at the website and found a lot of information, even though I was only interested in diabetes and blood circulation. The website is full of information and the area of my interest was more than satisfactory for my enquiry.

I contacted the clinic after some weeks of research and to my greatest surprise, I was informed they were setting up a clinic in New Zealand and were returning to Auckland in March/April 2010 where they had raised their family many years ago. True to their word, they arrived here right on time and booked me in as their first NZ client.

During the first session, I watched the leeches being applied to my legs and feet. I saw the leeches attach themselves to my skin and didn't feel anything more than a sensation similar to a mosquito bite. Over the next 3 hours, I saw the leeches grow perhaps 3-4 times its original size then fall off, or taken off delicately by Mr. Jaffari, the Leech Therapist.

A small amount of blood oozed from the tiny areas left from the leech's bite and during the first night, blood continued to ooze, which was soaked up into the dressing. Each bite area was treated with Manuka honey to assist in the skin's natural healing. The bite sites healed over night and I was able to walk freely without any further blood loss.

Now this is where the excitement comes. The very first night after treatment, results came to me almost immediately in the area of sleeping well. I went to sleep almost within 10 minutes of falling into my bed. I continued to undergo leech therapy every other day during the first month and it was during these first days and weeks that I experienced such great sleep. I used to shake my legs and feet for nearly 3 hours every night before going to sleep. My wife commented she heard me snoozing almost within 3 minutes of getting into bed!

The next benefit I felt was when I went swimming, which I do about 3 nights a week. Normally, I breathe very heavily while doing my strokes but after leech therapy, I found my energy levels had lifted to another level, and found my breathing was easy and I wasn't puffing. Furthermore, the darkness around my eyes began to disappear and a healthy colour began to return to my skin from my face to my feet.

Perhaps the most amazing thing was that I realised for the first time in about 2 years that I felt I didn't need to continue taking medication and that I wasn't going to lose my toes, feet or legs.

I continue to have therapy at a lesser level and thank God for this miracle creature. What I have realized, is how much leech therapy can help our people to save their own limbs regarding Diabetes. This information is to help educate anyone about leeches and their benefits.

Leech Therapy provides an alternative to the methods of dealing with our diabetes and dealing with our feet and legs that's available from regular forms of medication. Within myself, I am feeling 90% better than I have felt for 2 years now. As the first client to undergo this type of therapy in New Zealand, I would suggest or highly recommend this method to anyone in my own type of diabetes and see if it works for you.

This information can be found on my Leech Therapist's website and I only hope it helps to bring you closer to the idea that this therapy can work for you.

John Hettig

All These and More

Aside from Hirudin, there are many other active substances found in the saliva of leeches, which contribute to the improvement and normalization of capillary circulation. There are also other substances which produce a natural analgesic, provide antibacterial properties, lower blood pressure and have an anti-inflammatory effect.

In Diabetes and other diseases, the microcirculation restoration effect of Hirudotherapy is essential in preventing amputation of fingers and toes. As we know, the care of the fingers and toes are crucial and since a diabetic's blood circulation can be sluggish, where blood is sometimes unable to fully penetrate capillaries, the body cannot heal the smallest of wounds, or worse, necrosis [tissue death] can result and sometimes amputation of a finger, toe or limb is necessary to stop the spread of this condition to other parts of the body and Leech Therapy is known to improve circulation in distal parts of the body (i.e. extremities).

Today, hospitals worldwide use leeches to assist a number of areas, including restoration of circulation in reattaching parts of the body, such as fingers, toes, ears or hands which have been accidentally amputated and good blood supply and nerve connection is essential for recovery. These reattachment procedures are often complemented with leech therapy so that circulation is restored more easily and safely.

Little Research

Scientific research is ongoing regarding the use of leeches in assisting countless diseases in the medical arena. Leeches are without doubt, miraculous creatures; their obvious advantage is the fact they have survived for several centuries, therefore allowing us to acknowledge that some mysteries of nature, for the time being, may remain unmeasured.

Leeches have and will always be thought of as the "wonder doctors" of science.