What leeches are considered medicinal?
There are used 2 types of leeches in hirudotherapy: a pharmaceutic leech (Hirudo medicinalis officinalis) and a medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis medicinalis). There exists one more subspecies of the medical leech, an Eastern leech (Hirudo medicinalis orientalis), but due to a number of its specific features, it is rarely used in hirudotherapy.
Medical leeches are grown at bio factories and each batch is accompanied by the corresponding documents according to the certified pharmacopeial description (for instance CPD 42-702-97, MPM 42-0630-7038-05), and a certificate of conformity. After a hirudotherapy session worms are disposed.
Anatomy of a medicinal leech
The medical leech has a dense body with well-developed muscles and 2 suckers. It is hard to tear and it is divided into thirty-three segments. Positive qualities of the leech are determined by its digestive system. The latter consists of an oral cavity, pharynx, intestinal tube and anal orifice.
There are 3 jaws with rows of small chitinous teeth in a mouth. A leech bites through the skin easily and quickly, and the wound has a three-beam shape.
The average weight of the leech when it is hungry is from 0.5 to 3 gr.
Depending on the body part they are applied to, there are used leeches of different sizes:
1. Small (cosmetic) up to 5 cm in size.
2. Average (mature) 10-12 cm in size.
3. Large (mature) 12-18 cm in size.
Qualitative feature of the healthy leech:
1. It should not have any physical damages on the body and suckers, as well as “incisura”.
2. It possesses a strongly-pronounced contractile reflex.
3. It moves quickly towards the arm lowered into the water, firmly attaches with the lower sucker and makes searching movements to bite the skin with a front sucker.
4. It does not fall off when removing the hand from the water and shaking.
The Medicinal leech extract
The saliva of the leech contains more than 200 biologically active substances. For a long time the scientists knew only of hirudin. It prevents blood clotting, thereby accelerating the blood flow. Destabilase is responsible for the blood clots resorption, and hyaluronidase and collagenase improve permeability of tissues and vessel walls. It increases the absorption of nutrients by the body. Hyaluronidase also dissolves connective tissue, prevents scarring and adhesions.
Apyrase clears blood vessels from cholesterol, and orgelaza promotes the formation of new capillaries. Bradykinins and eglin relieve inflammation. Bdellines prevent blood clotting. Kininase relieves pain. Histamine-like substances dilate blood vessels.
Curative propertiesof leeches
• Restoration of blood circulation and lymph flow in the body.
• Improvement of organs and tissues nutrition.
• Remove of inflammations.
• Activation of regenerative processes in the body
Use of leeches
It is very had to describe all the advantages of the medical leaches but we will try to emphasize their most important features. They:
— restore micro circulation in the body;
— remove swelling, inflammation;
— are perfect pain-killers;
— fortify the immune system and tone the body.
The recent research has proved that the leech should be treated as a single living, quite complicated and unique nonspecific irritant with regard to the human body as a whole, not just as a local way of mechanical extraction of blood from the capillaries of the corresponding “problem” organ.
A complex effect of the mechanisms both morphological and biochemical lead to the restoration of the body.
Medical leeches: application
Leeches are effective in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. Saliva secretion cleans vessels from cholesterol, restores their walls, improves their permeability and promotes development of new capillaries.
Hirudotherapy is also effective in treating gynecological and urological inflammatory diseases (endometriosis, adhesions, fibroids, prostatitis), hemorrhoids, problems of the digestive tract functioning. Leeches regulate hormones, which help in treatment of the endocrine system.
Hirudotherapy is used in case of problems of the central and peripheral nervous system:
— brain concussion;
— vegetative-vascular dystonia;
Leech enzymes help cope with skin (psoriasis, eczema, abrasions, etc.) and ENT diseases (otitis, rhinitis, maxillitis, sinusitis, tonsillitis). They also help with metabolic disorders and treat joints.
Diseases, which can be treated with leeches:
Leeches may be used as a panacea. As it has been said by a wise man once: “It treats both heart and soul”. The curative properties of leeches are hard to overestimate. They really can cure people with heart diseases; can help people who suffer from respiratory diseases or diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, systemic lupus erythematosus and diseases of the joints. Patients with inflammatory diseases can also take advantage of the curative properties of leeches. Sometimes it is even difficult to define what is more effective in the treatment of neurological disorders, vascular and diseases of the urogenital system — leeches or drugs because the increasing amount of people nowadays refuse drugs proving their ineffectiveness and harmful effect over other parts of the body. Many people prefer leeches to drugs whereas other people still combine pharmaceutical treatment with leeches. It seems to be a miracle but people with poor eyesight can improve their eyesight also be means of leeches. Everybody knows about the curative action of leech for people with skin, surgical and diseases of the endocrine system.
Who would have thought that leeches are widely used in dentistry? It is really so, leeched are applied in case of various dental and orthopedic diseases and trauma.
The basic curative properties of the leech treatment:
• Restoration of blood and lymph circulation;
• Strengthening of microcirculation processes;
• Anti-inflammatory effect;
• Strengthening of restoration processes.
Leech treatment contraindications
Leeches are contraindicated in cancer, anemia, hemophilia, hypotension, pregnancy. Hirudotherapy should not be performed within 1 month after a cesarean section. Occasionally enzyme idiosyncrasy is observed. With regard to allergy, it is manifested in the form of swelling, redness, itching at the site of the bite, increase in body temperature. There is no need to discontinue the treatment. The symptoms indicate that the body is very dirty and that the total cleaning has begun.
Take a break until symptoms disappear, then continue. Everybody who would like to start treatment with leeches should always keep in mind the following contraindications:
1. Blood-clotting disorders concomitant diseases.
2. Anemia and leukemia.
4. Erosive and ulcerative lesions of the gastrointestinal tract.
5. Acute febrile illness with an uncertain diagnosis.
6. Subacute bacterial endocarditis.
7. Active form of tuberculosis.
8. Acute psychomotor agitation.
9. Alcohol intoxication.
10. Sharp exhaustion (cachexia).
13. Condition after surgery on the brain and spine.
15. Individual intolerance of leeches, allergic reactions, which occur in 0.01 % of the population.
Medicinal leeches: price
The price depends on the type of medical leeches and their size. There are small, medium and large specimens. Their size ranges from 5 to 18 centimeters, and their weight ranges from 0.5 to 3 grams.
Leech treatment cost
The cost of treatment depends on the number of leeches and their prices. The final price is determined after the development of the hirudotherapy course at an individual consultation with a patient.
Application of 1 leech
Application of 3 leeches
Application of 5 leeches