As one of the staples of traditional medicine, leech therapy is highly advised by experts and doctors to cure various diseases. Since ancient Egypt, leeches have been used for medicinal purposes to treat neurological system anomalies, dental issues, skin disorders, and infections. They’re mainly applied in plastic surgery and other types of microsurgery nowadays due to their ability to produce peptides and proteins that inhibit blood clots. It helps wounds heal by keeping blood flowing to them. Leech treatment is currently experiencing a resurgence due to its ease and low cost of avoiding various complications. This article will answer all your questions about leech therapy as a helpful and convenient method of treatment.
How Leech Therapy Works
Leech treatment can be utilized in a variety of circumstances. Those who are in danger of limb amputation due to diabetic complications, those diagnosed with heart disease, and those undergoing cosmetic surgery and risk losing some soft tissue may all benefit from leech therapy. Blood clots and varicose veins can also be addressed with this treatment.
Saliva in the mouth of medical leeches contains various substances, including Hirudo, secreted by the salivary glands and enter the host body when the leeches are fed.
In addition, because the leech attaches to the host body with its strong muscles of the mouth and jaw and creates suction, it acts like pomp, pulling the waste toward the wound and expels it from the body.
Following the leech feeding on the host body, the blood expelled from the body also has a healing and cleansing effect on the body. In other words, leech therapy is cupping therapy and injecting substances such as Hirudin into the body.
Who Shouldn’t Use Leech Therapy
It is a safe treatment option for most people, but in some rare circumstances, it is advisable not to use this method of therapy. People with anemia, blood clotting disease, or damaged arteries are not good leech treatment options. It is usually recommended to avoid using leech therapy for children under 18, the elderly over 60, and pregnant women. People with weakened immune systems or a history of taking immunosuppressive drugs, coagulation disorders, and other specific diseases should not use leech therapy.
Leech Therapy Usages
During a traditional medicine session, live leeches attach themselves to the target region and take blood through a Y-shaped wound they form on the skin. Simultaneously, they secrete proteins and peptides that thin the blood and help it to clot. It results in boosting circulation while preventing tissue death. The wounds created by the leech generally heal without leaving a scar.
Leeches are useful for improving blood circulation and dissolving blood clots. It should come as no surprise that they can be utilized to treat circulation problems and heart disease. Their benefits are not limited to circulation and heart conditions. Here is a brief review of the usages of leech therapy:
Our heart is responsible to pump blood to various organs of the body, and leeches suck blood when attached to the skin. So there should be an association between this type of therapy and the functioning of the heart. Leech therapy is used by people with heart disease because it has the ability to reduce inflammation and enhance blood flow. Leech treatment has become an accepted alternative therapy for patients with vascular disease and problems in recent years.
Cancer therapies employing leech therapy are being investigated because of the platelet inhibitors and unique enzymes found in leech saliva. While leech therapy is not recommended for patients with certain blood malignancies, it has been found to help those with lung cancer. In addition, animal studies suggest that injecting leech saliva directly into mice can prevent cancer cells from colonizing.
Diabetes’ development can lead to a slew of issues. These issues can develop into vascular disease, restricting or preventing blood flow to the toes, fingers, hands, and feet. The afflicted tissue might perish if blood supply is substantially limited. This is the most common reason for amputation among people with diabetes. For millions of individuals worldwide, losing a digit or limb due to diabetes complications is a serious issue.
Increased circulation to the afflicted tissues without the danger of blood clots is the most efficient approach to halt this process. Leech treatment has been found to help diabetic patients, and the results of several studies have proved its efficacy in controlling diabetes.
Leech saliva contains a chemical called Hirudin, which thins the blood and prevents it from clotting. Hirudin can help reduce the heart and circulatory system pressure by thinning the blood, which is common in persons with diabetes. In situations where Hirudin has been used to treat diabetes, researchers have shown favorable results.
Leech therapy and cosmetics
As you know, blood carries oxygen and nutrients to all tissues and organs of the body. If the blood supply to the tissues or any part of the body is reduced or interrupted, oxygen does not reach that point and interferes with its function. As blood flow decreases, it is not possible to deliver medication and antibiotics to the affected area. So when the blood supply is blocked, the leech sucks blood into the damaged tissue.
It also opens blood clots through vasodilating enzymes in saliva, removing infections and dirt from the blood by sucking and restoring clarity to the skin. By placing the leech in the accumulation of facial pimples, the impurities in the place of acne and pimples are removed.
Lack of proper blood purification causes the darkening of the skin. As we age, the mature stem cells in the tissues that play the role of regenerating them shrink and cause aging. Leech facial therapy, also called hirudo therapy, increases the number of these cells. Therefore, it has rejuvenating, clarifying, and brightening effects.
Leeches must prevent blood from clotting to suck blood. For this reason, sucking blood enters the saliva itself. Leech saliva contains 100 important and effective enzymes that are injected into the host tissue during feeding. The most important of these enzymes are Hirudin, Bdelin, Apyrase, and Eglin. The most important effect of these enzymes is to improve blood circulation in that area.
Leech Therapy and Youthful Skin
Our skin has three layers: upper (epidermis), middle (dermis), and lower (hypodermis). These layers are made up of skin cells, capillaries, and vascular glands, respectively.
- The surface of the skin is regenerated daily with new cells and is more exposed to a variety of hazards
- The middle layer, which makes up 90% of the skin’s thickness, is collagen and elastin.
- The bottom layer is also made of fat.
Leech saliva enzymes penetrate the middle layer of the skin and increase collagen and elastin. As a result, with the help of these enzymes, facial skin wrinkles are eliminated. It also improves skin nutrition by strengthening blood circulation and prevents premature aging. One of the unique features of improving blood circulation is the reconstruction of weak blood vessels.
Fear or Disgust?
For some people, even the idea of having a leech suck on their skin is a nightmare. But believe that leech bites do not hurt. Because the enzyme in the leech saliva desensitizes the area to which it is attached. There is also a substance in leech saliva that acts like an antibiotic and prevents contamination at the bite site. Before biting the target, the leech cleans the area with its saliva, which contains antibiotics, then covers the site with its mouth and sucks your blood.
After leaving the position, the wound is washed due to secondary bleeding from the wound, and this flow prevents germs from entering the wound. However, it is possible that you will bleed for up to 12 hours after leeching your face, and you may feel itchy at the site up to a week later, which will not be a problem if you follow the important points after leech treatment. It is important to know that bleeding after facial leech treatment plays an essential role in expelling dirty blood, so do not worry.
Recommendations before the Therapy Session
- Do not take a bath for 24 hours after the session.
- Do not smoke for up to 12 hours after treatment.
- Postpone your travel or party plan for 24 hours after the therapy session.
- Be sure to consult your doctor if the leech scar itches after 24 hours.
- Do not eat salty, sour, and sweet food for two days after putting the leeches.
- Be sure to rest for half an hour after putting the leeches and avoid driving.
- Do not sleep for at least 5 hours after leech treatment. It is better to do leech treatment before 4 pm to have enough time to recover before sleeping at night.
Potential Side Effects
Leech therapy is a safe method of traditional medicine to help cure various complications. However, you might face side effects due to pre-existing problems in your body. Hence, remember to get a traditional medicine consultation before having the therapy session. Here are potential side-effects you might face during or after the session:
The most common risk is infections caused by leech gut bacteria, which are normal for human skin. Infections are rare because blood leaks out of the body, and bacteria cannot enter the bites of leeches. Sometimes bacteria may be resistant to the drug. Therefore, patients with immune system disorders are not good candidates for leech treatment.
Leeches sometimes try to move from the target area to another body area that does not need treatment, leading to bleeding.
In some cases, a person may be allergic to leech saliva during or after leech treatment.
Can We Use a Leech Twice?
The answer to this question is negative since leeches absorb blood, and they’re considered polluted. They are humanely put to sleep once the therapy is completed.
Some individuals find the idea of leeches being utilized as a modern medical therapy repulsive. However, more and more study reveals that there’s a reason why leeches have been used as a vital element of medical therapy for decades. As we learn more about the unique characteristics of leech saliva, the therapy will likely have even more practical applications than we previously imagined.
As said earlier, leech therapy is the main staple of traditional medicine, and there are many good reasons for that. Hence, if you want to release your pains and get a fresher look and healthy body, give leech therapy a try. Don’t panic at the sight of the leech and don’t have any fear of its bite. Just remember that the benefits are endless and worthy.