Leech therapy is not something new as it has actually been used since the ancient Egypt. It has been a common way to treat abnormalities in the nervous system, dental problems, infections, and skin diseases among many other ailments.
Today, they are still widely used, not just for treating illnesses, but also for plastic surgeries.
How Do Leeches Help in Medical Procedures?
Medically, leech therapy is known as hirudotherapy and its main use is to promote blood flow and healing. The parasites produce an enzyme, which is found in their saliva that can help stop blood clotting, while acting as an antiseptic. In medical procedures, particularly in surgery, leeches were first used in 1985 by a doctor from Harvard. Until now, they are used to help the patient feel numb and be free from pain. They are inexpensive and are indeed effective in preventing complications.
Uses of Medicinal Leech Therapy
Leeches, as mentioned, are used in medical procedures and for treating various medical conditions. Although leeches are unconventional and unpopular, they are slowly gaining spotlight as a few studies revolve around them, including those that claim how leeches can help diabetics. There are many other new methods proposed for treating diabetes, but scary leech therapy is grabbing attention.
Diabetes is a disease that can lead to vessel problems, which limit or even stop blood from reaching hands and feet. When there is severe blood flow restriction, tissues can die, which can lead to amputation. Leeches are said to have the ability to increase circulation without worries about blood clotting. A case study even showed a 60-year-old diabetic woman who was about to have her limb amputated, but four leeches per session helped save her from the process.
Apart from diabetes, live leeches may also help with the following health problems:
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Varicose veins
- Skin problems
Leeches are believed to be effective treatment against cardiovascular disease and circulatory disorders because they can increase blood circulation without blood clot risks. Leeches that are alive are used in leech therapy. They are encouraged to attach themselves to the affected area of the patient where they will draw blood. As they do so, they will release their peptides and proteins that act as blood thinners, while preventing clotting and tissue death. Every leech therapy session will leave a Y-shaped wound, but this is rather small and will go away without leaving a scar.
Recent news about leech therapy involves these parasites’ saliva as a method for treating cancer. It is believed that the saliva may be able to combat cancer cells from spreading and multiplying.