All you need to know about Leech Therapy

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Misbah Ali

Ever imagined that the parasitic worms—leeches belonging to the Hirudinea subclass can ever be used as a medicinal treatment?

Medicinal leech therapy (MLT) or hirudotherapy is said to date back some 3000 years. Not only that, but leech therapy has been an active part of traditional Indian medicine throughout its history.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), MLT is a kind of complementary and integrative treatment method applied with blood-sucking leeches. In this, one or more leeches are attached to the skin of the problematic area and the purpose is to gain potential utilities of leech saliva that is secreted while the leeches are feeding.

MLT was previously tested and is widely used after plastic, reconstructive, and microsurgical applications, in cardiovascular diseases, deep vein thrombosis, postphlebitic syndrome, complications of diabetes mellitus, tinnitus, acute and chronic otitis, and in reducing the pain of osteoarthritis.

It effects on blood clotting during and after these procedures aid the body’s normal and thorough healing. Blood circulation provides several advantages, which has led to some people using the therapy to treat baldness and hair loss on the scalp.

Medicinal leeches—commonly found in Hungary or Sweden; they have three jaws with a single row of teeth in each. Their teeth are used to penetrate a person’s skin and inject anticoagulants present in their saliva. After that, the leeches are permitted to drain blood from the patient for approximately about half an hour (this translates to only a few milliliters of blood per leech).

Most importantly, this therapy is currently experiencing a comeback due to its ease and low cost of use in reducing medical problems.

Recently, actress Sonu Gowda got a leech therapy, the actress took to her social media page where she shared a video of a leech sucking on her thumb.

“Playing with leech! Leeches suck excess blood, reduce the swelling in tissue, promotes healing by allowing fresh oxygenated blood.. according to traditional Ayurveda there is leech therapy to treat for tumor patients.. Why am I saying all this? Because most of them think it’s dangerous, No they can be itchy but not a dangerous one.. if it’s stuck to your body put a pinch of salt on it, it will fall from your body..,” read Sonu’s Instagram post.

According to Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev, naturopathy can also treat the problem of varicose veins. But if this therapy is done by an expert then it is better for you.

This therapy is not recommended for people who have autoimmune disorders, anaemia, blood clotting problems, or have damaged arteries. It is also advised that children under the age of 18 and pregnant women avoid it.

MLT has been used for centuries and the term leech was derived from the word “laece” (physician). The first recorded applications were observed in ancient Egypt.



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