Treating Diseases with Leech Therapy

Leech therapy has been used since the ancient times, and to prove its value to the medical world, this kind of therapy is still prevalent in our modern society. Although it has lost its popularity when the 20th century arrived, leech therapy now is having a comeback with more and more people getting interested and trying this one-of-a-kind yet ancient therapeutic method of treating diseases.


Leech Therapy in a Nutshell

Leech therapy, as the name implies, is the utilisation of medicinal leeches to cure and treat diseases and promote balance in the human body. With over 600 species of leeches, only 15 of them are discovered useful in the treatment of diseases, and this is the reason why there were classified as Hirudo Medicinalis, or simply medicinal leeches.

These medicinal leeches are placed on the patient's affected part (legs for vascular diseases, for example) and allowed to fasten their mouths on the patient's skin. In the process of sucking out "impure" blood, the saliva of the leeches enters through the puncture site, delivering valuable enzymes that act as an anticoagulant, anti-clotting, vasodilator, anesthetic, bacteriostatic, and anti-inflammatory agents. All these promote good blood flow with the prevention and breaking up of formed clots. It also relieves pain and inflammation.

Risks in Leech Therapy

Medicinal leeches are allowed to suck blood until they are bloated with impure blood and automatically disengage themselves from the skin. Each leech can hold at least 15 to 20 ml of blood. After a number of therapeutic days, a patient will notice marked improvement in his overall function.

Of course, any treatment of diseases poses its own risks. For leech therapy, you risk acquiring an infection. Like any other organism, leeches have bacteria commonly found in their guts, but there is little likelihood for this happening as blood oozes out of the bite. But for preventive measures, patients can be prescribed an antibiotic to avoid infection and to promote faster wound healing at the same time. Patients with HIV, AIDS or who are on immunosuppressive medication are not advised to go through leech therapy because their immune system is already compromised, and if bacteria entered their bloodstream, an infection could occur.

Knowing the methods of treatment and the risks involved, it is still the patient's decision whether they would like to undergo leech therapy and it is always advised to notify their doctors of their decision.