Leech therapy to combat and alleviate local pain syndromes
Leech therapy is one of the oldest healing methods in alternative medicine. Their widespread use worldwide is based on their beneficial influence on combating and alleviating local pain syndromes. Several studies on this topic have repeatedly confirmed the effectiveness of this traditional therapy.
Leech treatment as an extension procedure
Leech therapy particularly successful for osteoarthritis (private)
According to its mechanism of action, this therapy belongs to the group of extension procedures. This means that harmful substances and slags are excreted in the blood. The result is a relief of the whole body. In contrast to cupping and the well-known bloodletting, leech therapy has a special feature. It is the saliva secretion of the leeches that has an additional positive effect.
The saliva of the leeches brings the active ingredients with them. Over 20 different substances were found in the saliva of the leeches, the best studied active ingredients are Edlin and Hirtin. Edlin has a beneficial effect on the healing process in inflammation by blocking certain enzymes in their activity. In addition, Edlin has an analgesic effect, which is very pleasant for the affected patients during leech therapy.
Shepherdess is a substance that acts on the thrombin factor, so that the flow properties of the blood improve. It is very positive that trombons can be dissolved in this way and the formation of new thromboses can be prevented. This significantly reduces the risk of getting an embolism. By accelerating the flow of the lymph, shepherdess contributes to a quick detoxification of the organism. A very important aspect is the influence of shepherdess on the formation and activity of new white blood cells. Since these blood components play a crucial role in the defense against pathogens, shepherdess also strengthens the immune system. Finally, its antispasmodic effect on the vessels is another positive characteristic.
Studies prove the effectiveness of leech therapy
Studies have now shown that treatment with leeches is sometimes superior to conventional therapy. A study carried out by the Karl and Veronica Carstens Foundation in 2004 shows that the use of leeches in 80% of those suffering from arthrosis provides better pain relief than the application of an analgesic ointment. The “Randomized Controlled Study on the Effectiveness of Leech Therapy for Symptomatic Irritation Osteoarthritis” carried out by the University of Duisburg-Essen in 2009 also points to the superiority of this alternative healing method over conventional drug therapy.
The extensive fields of application of leech therapy
The spectrum of effects of leech treatment shows what these little animals can do. It is primarily inflammatory processes and diseases based on circulatory disorders that can be treated effectively with leeches. The main areas of application for leech treatment are:
- Diseases of the veins (varicose veins, thromboses, hemorrhoids)
- Diseases of the cardiovascular system
- Diseases of the joints (gout, arthrosis, arthritis)
- bruises and bruises
- Lymphatic and liver congestion
- Different clinical pictures of migraines
Who should do without leech treatment
In principle, leech therapy is almost free of side effects. Nevertheless, there are certain factors and patient groups for which treatment is not appropriate in this procedure:
- Taking anticoagulant and blood-thinning preparations (Marcumar, acetylsalicylic acid and the like)
- Known allergy to the active ingredient shepherdess
- tendency to excessive scarring
- Already existing weakening of the immune system
- women in pregnancy
The little animals are so sensitive
In order for the leeches to do their job properly, the patient must take some precautions. Although it is hardly suspected, these animals have a strong sense of smell in addition to a sense of temperature. For this reason, the areas of the skin intended for leech therapy may only be washed with pure water a few days beforehand. The use of creams, sprays, etc. is taboo before treatment.
To ensure a comfortable temperature for the leeches, the areas to be treated are covered with warm compresses beforehand. As primitive as these animals appear, they also react to stimuli such as bright light, shocks and noise. During treatment, the therapist makes sure that these influences are excluded. Only if the leeches are comfortable are the prerequisites for successful leech therapy.
Procedure of leech therapy
According to the clinical picture, the therapist selects those parts of the body on which the leeches are placed. The number of animals used (usually two to six) depends on the findings. Some areas are basically left out:
- Skin areas with inflammatory processes
- Veins and varicose veins
- Open wounds
- regions with poor blood circulation (low impact factor)
The leeches are applied to the affected skin with tweezers. In order to prevent the animals from migrating, the therapist holds them upside down in their "work area" with an inverted glass. The actual process begins with the tiny teeth penetrating the skin. During the suction that now takes place, the saliva secretion and its active substances are simultaneously released into the bloodstream. Penetration into the skin is painless and comparable to the bite of a mosquito.
Depending on your "appetite", 10-20 milliliters of blood are taken from a leech. If his hunger is satisfied, he falls off all by himself. As a rule, leech therapy lasts between half an hour and an hour and a half. If, in exceptional cases, it is absolutely necessary to interrupt the treatment, the leech must be carefully removed. This is done with an alcohol-soaked swab.
To avoid the transmission of infections, bacteria, etc., the leeches are always grown under controlled conditions and of course only used once.
After therapy - desired effects and aftercare
After leech therapy, it is completely normal for the bite to start bleeding. This so-called bleeding is a necessary and desired effect. In addition to a decongestant effect, the wound is cleaned and germs removed. The treated skin areas are then covered loosely with a sterile bandage. The next day it will be changed. After about 12 hours, but at the latest after 24 hours, the bleeding is complete. The bite site heals completely after one to three weeks. Only in rare cases does a tiny, barely visible scar remain.
Although the amount of blood consumed by the leeches is very small, there may be a harmless temporary drop in blood pressure. For people suffering from high blood pressure, this is a desirable side effect.