In the 19th century, people used leeches, which are worms, to get rid of “bad blood” and replace it with healthier stuff. Leeches were stuck on to the bodies of ill people in a blood-letting practice that in some countries continues.
The leech feeds by first attaching its sucker onto the skin. The mouth, located in the middle of the sucker, opens to expose the teeth, which cut into the patient’s skin. The saliva of the leech contains substances that anesthetize the wound area (rendering the bite virtually painless) and dilate blood vessels to increase blood flow to the site of the bite.
- Leeches work with secreted proteins
- Extracellular matrix degradation
- Analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects
- Increasing blood flow
- Inhibition of platelet functions
- Anticoagulant effect
- Antimicrobial effect
The benefits of leech therapy are due, in large part, to the anticoagulant effects („blood-thinning”), vasodilatory effects, and anesthetic effects of the biochemicals contained in leech saliva, as well as the physical effects of bloodletting (phlebotomy).
Hirudin, a potent anticoagulant in leech saliva, inhibits the conversion of fibrinogen to fibrin, preventing blood from clotting.
Indeed, a wound may continue to bleed for many hours after the leech has already detached due to the anticoagulant effect of hirudin. Many recently developed prescription drugs used for similar conditions were designed based on the mechanism of action of leeches.
Leeches are used to assist in the reattachment of severed body parts such as fingers, hands, toes, legs, ears, and noses. Leeches are used to help with venous insufficiency when there is sufficient arterial flow when reattaching severed body parts.
Today leeches are also used to drain blood from swollen faces, limbs, and digits (fingers and toes) after reconstructive surgery. They are especially useful when reattaching small body parts that have many small blood vessels. Leeches are used to prevent the clotting of blood in these small veins. The entire course of treatment may require one to 6 treatments or more, depending upon the goals and rate of response.
- Poor blood circulation
- Arterial and blood thrombosis
- Kidney stones
- Hair loss
- Diseases of the oral cavity
- Nose and sinus diseases
- Infections and inflammatory diseases
- Very low blood pressure(prolonged)
- Strongly pronounced allergic reaction to an insect bite
- Any diagnosed blood disorder
- Recent treatment with anticoagulants
- Hepatitis(any variety)
- Chronic alcoholism
- Any type of cancer
- Leeches are sensitive to the aroma and smell. Take a shower before the session. You won’t be able to shower for the rest of the day.
- Don’t use body oils, lotions, perfume or medical creams. Dress comfortably. You might ask someone to ride you after the session.
- Wear comfortable dark clothing, layers are best and remove tight or restrictive jewelry beforehand.
- Ensure you have eaten before treatment and drink plenty of fluids post-treatment
- It is important that after you receive treatments you do not touch the wound or remove the bandaging for 8-12 hours.
- You can not shower or bath for 24 hours.
- No alcohol 24 hours before and after the session.
DO’S AND DON’TS
- Exfoliate your skin before the office visit.
- Don’t use creams, lotions, oils, and perfume on your face and body.
- Don’t wear make up for facial treatment.
- No alcohol 24 hours before and after.
- Don’t bath or hot tubs after treatment at least for 12 hours after the session.
- Don’t do any physical activates for 24 hours after the session.
- Allow yourself rest after the session.
- Drink plenty of water and herbal tea.
Leeches are not re-used. Think of the leech as a needle – use once and discard. They are humanely put to their final rest in alcohol and we thank them for their service.