Leech therapy – popularity, and use
Leech Therapy aka Hirudotherapy – an old treatment approach that becomes new again. Medical Leeches widely used to relieve vascular congestion developed due to poor venous and lymphatic drainage in vascularly suffered tissues. This commentary defines how the medicinal hirudotherapy works and some practical concerns.
Hirudotherapy is a healing technique of using medical leeches. Leeches have been used to heal people for centuries. Long ago, these “vampires” have proved to be an effective remedial for a variety of medical conditions such as varicose, arteriosclerosis, and even heart arrest. At present time use of leeches benefits in the healing of abscesses, joint diseases, glaucoma, thrombosis, and some blood circulation disorders. For the duration of sucking, leeches infuse a combination of different biological ingredients into the bloodstream. Hirudin and Heparin are the most important ingredients of leech’s saliva.
History of hirudotherapy aka leech therapy
Archives point to the history of the use of medicinal leech aka Hirudo medicinalis back to historical Egypt, Roman Empire, and Greece and turn out to be widely held during the Middle Ages when hirudotherapy was the leading way of medicinal blood-cleaning (detoxification) or “decontamination”. Blood-drawing at that time used for healing of a variety of medical ailments including high fever, migraines, headaches, insomnia, pain syndrome (anywhere in the body) malaria, typhoid, etc. Great Britain used more than 40 million leeches per year in the Victorian era for medicinal hirudotherapy.
Leech therapy then re-occurred in the 70s of the last century as an addition to cosmetic, organs replacement and emergency surgery at trauma centers. The advance of microsurgery made it promising for surgeons to reattach arteries, lymphatic and venous capillary vessels after amputation and transplantation. However, venous blocking and poor drainage of blood from organs and tissues often lead a procedure to failure. Without the relief of congestion, blood clots form and prevent blood flow to the reattached tissue, leading to tissue death. Leeches remove blood from tissue before it can clot, preventing venous congestion. This retains flesh in good physical shape and perfused until new-fangled vessels can develop to tolerate venous reappearance — a progression that normally takes up to a week.
Present leech treatment nowadays used to heal reduced venous drainage, get rid of vascularly compromised flaps and recover tissue that has been surgically replaced or altered succeeding post-traumatic amputation. The accomplishment of hirudotherapy has been projected at 76%, with an overall complication rate of 11.8%.
Hirudo medicinalis aka Leaches is plentiful in the freshwater systems of European and North American lakes and rivers. Leeches are segmented worms that may grow up to 12cm long, shrinking to about a third of that length when inactive. They have “mouth” at both sides that they are using to bite a skin. At the anterior part of the mouth, there are over 300 teeth in three layers of jaws leaving a Y-shaped bite on a patients skin. Blood-sucking activity is stimulating by the proximity of a donor’s body temperatures and exposure of sodium and arginine in plasma (the liquid part of the blood). When a leech is attached to a donor, it consumes around 5–15ml of blood, which is up to 10 times more than a leach’s regular weight roughly in 20 – 40 minutes before a leach is coming off by itself.
Leech’s saliva holds a number of natural ingredients, including hirudin, calin, some anesthetic complexes, antihistamine (anti-allergy) components, and vasodilators. Hirudin known in medical practice as heparin is a powerful anticoagulant that prevents the transformation of fibrinogen to fibrin. The Hirudin is stopping the process of clotting of blood and thus can be successfully used instead of or along with pharmaceutical drugs like
Also, Hirudin along with vasodilator complexes that also exist in leach’s saliva increases blood flow to the affected areas. And because of the anesthetic ingredients that exist infused by a leach into a donor bloodstream, the treatment is painless.
During a procedure, a leech also infuses calin to a bloodstream that connects to collagen and deactivates its ability to increase clotting. The procedure causes a lengthy anticoagulant outcome for up to 10 hours.
Before leech therapy aka hirudotherapy
Before performing leach therapy, the affected tissues are examined to make sure that there is venous congestion and not the arterial or lymphatic insufficiency. The medical provider also will inspect your daily medicines that may escalate the risk of blood loss or diminish your immune response. Also, patients are suggested to avoid caffeine until treatment is finalized to lessen the risk of vasoconstriction.
Smoking or consuming nicotine replacement medicines are contraindicated during treatment for the reason that these ingredients my increase vasoconstrictive properties of carbon monoxide and nicotine.
Contraindications for hirudotherapy.
Hirudotherapy should not be performed if a patient suffers from one or more of the following ailments:
- Arterial and atherosclerosis
- Known allergic reaction to leeches or heparin, calin, etc.
- Unstable medical condition (terminal phases of serious diseases such as cancer, kidney failure, etc.
- Immune deficit conditions such as HIV infection, concurrent chemotherapy, etc.
- If a patient rejects to sign a consent for hirudotherapy
Prior to applying a leech, hirudotherapist will clean and rinse your skin.
Hirudotherapy (leech therapy) procedure
At the beginning of the procedure, wearing gloves, the hirudotherapist takes each leech using a long forceps from the container immediately after removing the container out of the refrigerator. At that time leeches are relatively passive. Then the therapist places a leech into a tube and inverts this tube over the affected spot on your skin. After a leech bites the skin the plastic tube can be removed and the sucking process starts.
The leech will remain to suck for nearly 45 minutes before it detaching by itself. If however, the leech doesn’t detach, a small cotton ball soaked in alcohol may be used to paralyze it. Forcible removal with forceps is never indicated. After treatment, a bite may bleed for as long as ten or even twelve hours, which is normal and expected.
Hirudotherapy – Leech therapy in Philadelphia
At the Philadelphia Holistic Clinic directed by the medical doctor, Victor Tsan, Dr. Konstantin Lakeev performs hirudotherapy procedures as a part of complex treatments or as a standalone medical protocol.
Dr. Lakeyev graduated from the Academy of Hirudotherapy in Las-Vegas, NV and Certified in Integral Hirudotherapy (certificate #201377546-0701 01.07.2013) by the academy.
To book your appointment for Hirudotherapy call our clinic (267) 403-3085.