In many countries, leech therapy is an age-old tradition. Village healers have been using these blood-sucking creatures for its medicinal value for generations. Let us find out why this ancient therapy has found acceptance even in modern day surgeries.
Since ancient times, they used leeches in Egypt to treat skin diseases, dental issues, and infections. The treatment was also used in many countries where the crawly worms are found in nature.
How does it work?
Leeches used in medical therapy have three jaws and a big row of teeth. When they come in contact with warm skin, they pierce it with their tiny teeth, inject anticoagulants via their saliva and suck blood. Then, they absorb up to 15-20ml of blood and release their hold.
Leech therapy is widely used on diabetic patients at the verge of losing their limb. Patients of cosmetic surgery who may lose some soft tissue also benefit from leech therapy. They are also used to suck out deoxygenated blood after surgery.
People who have blood clots and varicose veins are also administered medical leech therapy. It is a cost-effective and pain-free method with relatively low side effects.
When leeches attach themselves to the skin, they release more than 20 different types of bioactive substances like peptides and proteins that thin the blood and avert clotting. This action allows for better blood flow and reduces the chances of tissue death. Leeches’ signature ‘y’ mark will heal quickly and won’t cause a scar.
Their ability to improve blood circulation and avoid clots is very useful in treating cardiovascular diseases.
Pharma companies have used the leech saliva to create drugs to treat hypertension, hemorrhoids, arthritis and other diseases.
Leech therapy is also being examined for their potential use in cancer treatment.