The leech and its effects
Leeches have it all! Since 2017, the new old form of therapy has also been used in Ayurveda practice in Graz for varicose veins, pain and swelling such as rheumatism and arthrosis, tinnitus and sudden hearing loss. Here is a more detailed description and (for the fearless) a small film ...
What exactly makes the leech so effective:
The leech's saliva contains more than 40 active ingredients that have not been fully researched. They inhibit blood clotting and inflammation, make blood and lymph flow again, and reduce pain over a long period of time. The popular opinion has spread that the leech would do something bad, e.g. suck the joint. But it is more about the introduction of the substances in saliva and their effects. The form of therapy in Ayurveda has been used as blood purifying therapy for thousands of years. Even in the recent past, the animals have also been widely used in European medicine, even in "conventional medicine".
For some years now, more in Germany than in Austria, there has been a strong demand for medical leech treatment again. Doctors and alternative practitioners in our neighboring country use a total of 350,000 leeches in one year alone. A study there showed a long-lasting pain reduction in a majority of the 200 patients with knee osteoarthritis examined. The application is very simple, you just have to pay attention to a clean environment, they absorb themselves and let go of their own accord when they are "full". The process takes about 30-90 minutes and you can feel a slight burning sensation. The saliva of the animals somewhat numbs the area. If the leeches do not fall off, remove them with a sterile spatula.
The leech does not secrete a wound-closing substance like the mosquitoes, which is why the subsequent bleeding can usually last 12 hours. I put on thick cotton bandages, so loose clothing and a day off for storage make sense.
The therapy is used for:
- varicose veins
- Broom tearers
Osteoarthritis (especially knee, thumb saddle joint, spinal degeneration)
- headache and migraines
- Tinnitus (ideal if not too long ago, little success if older than 1 year)
- sudden hearing loss (as with tinnitus, the leech is placed behind the auricle)
- wound healing disorders e.g. after surgery (not with circulatory disorders!)
- inflammation (shingles, tendonitis, and much more)
- muscle tension
At this point I would like to point out that the leeches can partially or permanently relieve symptoms, but they usually do not cure arthrosis. The effect is symptomatic.
Here too, preparation is half the job. The leeches do not like any strong scents or chemical substances, which is why you should not apply cream to the affected skin area or wash it with shower gels two days before treatment. It is also ideal to prefer a vegetarian diet a few days beforehand. According to traditional European guidelines, this diet still makes sense at least a week after treatment. Before applying, I warm cold skin with infrared. If the leeches still don't feel like sucking, I use a small needle to drop a tiny drop of blood - this makes everyone irresistible!
When better not to use leeches?
A current blood count helps to prevent excessive blood loss. 40 ml of blood come out of each leech, here I count the 12 hours after the therapy, in which the wound bleeds into the thick cotton bandage. I stop taking anticoagulant medication early enough, as with surgery. Ask your internist beforehand. A clear obstacle are allergies to leech components, which can rarely occur after previous leech therapy. Immunodeficiency due to therapy or diabetes should not be present, since the probability of a skin infection (erysipelas) described with 1: 10000 then increases. An arterial occlusive disease with impaired blood circulation should not exist, the skin is under-served due to venous congestion, but leeches can help.
As a rule, the treatment is relatively painless and without complications. Leeches are not uncommon for itchy skin that can be easily treated with Fenistil gel or healing earth when the small, Mercedes-star-shaped wounds heal, which can still be seen for a while. For this reason, I do not use leech therapy for cosmetic questions. Infection is very rare, but can be caused by scratching. It requires antibiotic treatment. With maximum therapy of 10 leeches per session and existing menstrual bleeding, there is a noticeable blood loss. Time interval to bleeding makes sense. Then do not use a sauna, overexert yourself and use shower plasters for 3 days.