Voluntarily putting a leech on your skin may sound like horrible middle age torture idea to many people. But leech therapy has been practiced in hundreds of societies for a long time. In this article, we will explore the scientific validity of this therapy.
Leech therapy is medically known as hirudotherapy or Medicinal leech therapy (MLT). There are hundreds of varieties of leech all over the world. Of these, a few dozen varieties including the Hirudomedicinalis has been widely researched for its medical application.
When you put a leech on human skin, it attaches itself strongly and begins to suck blood without causing any pain to the person. Contemporary medical practitioners believe leech is efficient in sucking bad blood out of humans. Once they suck enough and become fat, they roll off without leaving a mark.
But in case you kill one, the wound will bleed for a long time and doesn’t thicken easily.
According to multiple papers published in medical journals, leeches secrete over 20 different types of bioactive substances when drawing blood. Some of them include antistasin, hirudin, eglins, and others.
Leech therapy is cheap, effective and works without causing any pain or side effects. So the current scientific thinking believes Medicinal leech therapy (MLT) is not an alternative therapy, but a complementary therapy that should be used along with other forms of treatments.
Hirudotherapy has been approved as a valid method in treating a dozen different cases like osteoarthritis, inflammatory diseases, and plastic surgeries.
Leech therapy has been successfully used to reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients, in cases of deep vein thrombosis, cardiovascular diseases, and in patients suffering from acute and chronic otitis.
Apart from Hirudomedicinalis, leech species like Hirudotroctina, Hirudoquinquestriata, and Haementeria officinalis have been successfully documented for their therapeutic effects.