Leech therapy, POLAND, Łódź
tel. 790 731 253
791 842 977
ACADEMY OF HEALTH
INSTITUTE OF HOLISTIC MEDICINE
is a precursor of holistic medicine on the Polish market.
In holistic medicine, before initiating a treatment, it is important to identify the cause of the disease, not only to relieve its symptoms or effects, and also to restore the balance of the body, so called homeostasis, by the application of any and all possible methods of health care, starting with conventional medicine, therapies offered by spa centres, psychotherapy and finishing with alternative medical procedures, leech therapy (hirudotherapy), larval therapy (maggot therapy), acupuncture or herbal treatment.
An advocate of holistic medicine was Hippocrates (c. 460 377 BC), a famous Greek doctor, the father of medicine, the most prominent representative of medical school from the Isle of Kos. His fundamental principle was “primum non nocere” – first do no harm. Hippocrates’ medical practice was based on a rational evidence, in-depth observation of the patient and experience, which allowed him to establish a diagnosis and select the best possible methods of treatment. In his profession he cared about the health of his patients as he believed that “salus aegroti suprema est” – the well-being of the patient shall be the most important law”. Hippocrates’ treatment methods involved supporting natural healing processes.
Holistic medicine includes among others two ways of “combating” diseases. They are leech therapy (hirudotherapy), which uses leeches for medical purposes, and larval therapy (maggot therapy), which uses larvae of the common green bottle fly for hard-to-heal wounds.
“Any method is good if it is effective...” Hippocrates
LEECHES FOR SALE
Most important substances produced by salivary glands (SGS) of the medicinal leech
Hirudin – the most known substance produced by medicinal leeches, discovered by Hycraft in 1884. In 1903 Jacobi gave the substance its present name. It is a highly specific thrombin inhibitor, i.e. by deactivating thrombin it prevents the natural process of coagulation
Calin – a thrombocyte adhesion and aggregation inhibitor; it prolongs the time of bleeding after the application of leeches
Bdelins – inhibitors of trypsin, plasmin and acrosin. They are located all over the body of a leech but the greatest number of bdelins is found in the external reproductive organs. Bdelins inhibit the activity of inflammatory factors and prevent them from spreading over tissues. There are two forms of this inhibitor: bdelin A and bdelin B
Hirustasin – serine proteinase which is an inhibitor of kallikrein chains, tripsin, chymotripsin and cathepsin G, i.e. substances needed to keep regular blood pressure
Apyrase – plays an important role in reducing blood viscosity
Antielastase – inhibits the activity of elastases, i.e. the enzymes which destroy skin elastin and effectively slows down the process of skin ageing
Eglins – a strong anti-inflammatory substance (an inhibitor of inflammatory factors) and effective antioxidant. Eglin C is the best known of all eglins produced by leeches.
Destabilase – a substance which has strong antiaggregating properties causing decomposition of clotted blood. Destabilase also contains a unique low molecular substance – prostaglandin, which regenerates blood vessels, the digestive tract and controls the level of blood sugar
Hyaluronidase – a substance which plays two functions. It is a strong antibiotic and facilitates tissue permeability. Due to these properties neighbouring body cells and tissues can easily permeate through the cellular membrane. Another interesting property of this enzyme is the ability to dissolve polisaccharides which are components of endospore walls of many microorganisms.
LDTI – Leech Derived Tryptase Inhibitor is a substance secreted by leeches when they incise the host’s skin. LDTI protects the mouth part of the leech against the proteolytic enzyme (tryptase) produced by the immune system of the host
Factor Xa inhibitor – a substance which is a component of the Xa complex. In the cascade of blood coagulation the substance is responsible for conversion of prothrombin into thrombin. The complex deactivates the Xa factor, which results in the inhibition of the coagulation process
Carboxypeptidase A inhibitor – a substance which increases the blood flow and to some extent, removes clots which appear when the leech feeds on the host
Anaesthetics, neurotransmitters – strong analgesic factors, however not yet really identified. It is supposed that the analgesic properties are connected with neuropeptides produced by leeches. They include endorphins, which are known as happy hormones. Apart from killing pain endorphins eliminate a feeling of anxiety and euphoria, bring calmness, remove physical and mental addictions, negative emotions, nausea, depression and other symptoms observed in drug and alcohol addicts.
Substances dilating blood vessels – very similar to histamine; an organic compound, not yet well identified
Antibiotics – demonstrate strong antibacterial properties. They are produced by bacteria called Aeromonas veronii biotype sobria, which lives in a symbiosis with the medicinal leech
Leech therapy (Hirudotherapy), like any other therapies, can cause complications. Thus, before taking a decision to apply the therapy with leeches it is important to know contraindications for that kind of treatment. The following contraindications and information should be given consideration:
arterial pressure 80/60 or lower
children under the age of 10 (except for reattachment procedures)
cases of allergy should be individually treated
gastric ulcer and erosions
disturbances in wound healing
low level of haemoglobin
blood coagulation disorders
post-chemotherapy and post-radiotherapy complications
administration of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin) derivatives
patients treated with anticoagulant medicines (antithrombotic drugs) as these partly or completely inhibit the process of blood coagulation. The drugs are applied in the prophylaxis of thrombosis, atherosclerosis and other disorders which might result in the formation of a hazardous or life-threatening thrombus. Antithrombotic drugs include:
Leech therapy (Hirudotherapy) can be an effective supplement in treating many diseases and it is helpful in:
urinary system diseases
locomotion-resistance system diseases
LEECH THERAPY Paradentitis
We apply 2 – 4 leeches to the gingiva once a week, 3 procedures.
Leeches in dermatology
Methods of improving the beauty of a body and inhibiting the process of skin ageing with the application of leeches have been known since the most ancient times. Facial and body masks combined with fragrance oils mixed with the blood of leeches were applied by Japanese geishas, so famous for their beautiful skin. Countess Potocka applied leeches from her own pond to make herself younger. Hirudo compounds circulating around the body have rejuvenating properties because they are strong antioxidants. Moreover, the salivary glands of the leech secrete many other substances which inhibit the process of skin ageing. Lipids, antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory compounds, phosphatidic acid, free fatty acid, proteins, phospholipases, lipases, collagen, serotonin, cortisol, testosterone or progesterone are only some of the substances which improve the skin tension, blood flow and oxidation. Antielastase slows down skin ageing processes, inhibits the enzyme which decomposes elastin and in that way, prevents from degeneration of the elastic tissue. In dermatology leeches are effective in the treatment of discolourations, visible venules, cellulitis, acne, eczema, psoriasis, scleroderma; they prevent sebaceous ducts from being clogged, reduce the excess of sebum, have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, lighten the skin, stimulate epidermal regeneration and moisten the skin.
a facial lifting
The facial mask:
enhances and leaves the skin smooth
improves the skin tone and gives it a nice look
makes wrinkles less visible
improves the face contour
nourishes and enriches the skin with oxygen
stimulates the production of collagen and elastin
actively moisturizes the skin by penetrating its deep layers
LEECH THERAPY ARTHROSIS
We apply 4-8 leeches to the gingiva once a week, 10 procedures.
Demi Moore admits to bizarre beauty secret: 'I let leeches suck my blood'
"I was in Austria doing a cleanse and part of the treatment was leech therapy. These aren't just swamp leeches though - we are talking about highly trained medical leeches.
of medicinal leeches
Size and body shape
The body size of the leech can range from a few millimetres up to 40 centimetres. The shape can also be different: cylindrical, ribbon-like or leaf-like.
Medicinal leeches are flattened dorsoventrally. Adult leeches can be 10 – 15 centimetres long.
The body of the leech is divided into 34 segments and each is segment is subdivided into annules. The number of annules is different for a different order, family and even genus but ranges between 3 and 14 annules in each segment. Hirudo leeches have segments consisting of 5 annules.
Leeches, similar to other animals, are equipped with pigment-containing cells (chromatophores) which are found in the skin. These cells give an animal its own characteristic colour. The leech exhibits a variety of colours – different shades of green, brown and black.
The medicinal leech Hirudo is characterized with two orange stripes on the dorsal side and a regular patterns of bands on the green-olive background. On the lateral parts of the body there are yellow lines, whereas the ventral side is plain, green-olive and the lateral parts are covered with black lines.
Number and location of eyes
Leeches are equipped with a different number of eyes, between one and five pairs, depending on the family, genus and even species. There are also species of leeches which lack this organ. The medicinal leech of the Hirudo genus has 5 pairs of eyes located in the shape of semicircle, on the anterior part of the body.
in veterinary medicine
Indications and contraindications for leech therapy are the same as for humans. The leech therapy appears to be equally successful in treating many disorders, both in small and big animals, i.e. in treating thrombosis, varicose veins, furuncles, hematomas, haemorrhoids, oedemas, tenditis, inflammation of the mucosa, gingivitis, inflammations of the reproductive system, endometriosis, in post-surgical rehabilitation, after transplantation of the skin and limbs.
Animals behave differently than people. They are usually calm, they do not demonstrate any anxiety and do not wriggle nervously. They often sleep (e.g. dogs), eat or relax (e.g. horses). They react instinctively. Before the procedure they are not given any anaesthetics. The procedure is similar to the one performed for a man and it takes about 30 – 60 min.
CURIOSITIES FROM THE WORLD - leech therapy
Cosmetics from leeches
The secretion from the saliva of the leech, dry powder made from the leech and an extraction from leech embryos are used as components of cosmetics produced in Russia, in International Medical Leech Center, located close to Moscow. Biologically active substances combined with polysaccharides, starch, chinese rose, milk, vitamins A, B, F, C, olive oil and other components regenerates the skin, eliminates pigmentation disorders, protects the skin against environmental factors, slows down the ageing process and makes the skin more hydrated and elastic. In Poland the medicinal leech is protected by law so manufacturing cosmetics from this species is prohibited. Leeches used for medical purposes include not only hirudop medicinalis but also hirudo verbena and hirudo orientalis.
Taking secretion from leech salivary glands
Giant Amazon leech
The giant Amazon leech is probably the biggest leech that inhabits fresh waters. It is up to 45 cm long and can live up to 20 years. Its habitat is the area between the mouth of the Amazon River and Venezuela and Guyana. It can be found in wetlands along the river banks. The leech attacks amphibians, caimans, anacondas, capybaras and cattle. Anti-thrombotic medicaments are produced from the secretion of the salivary glands of the Amazon leech.
Giant Amazon leech and its proboscis
Horse leech (Haemopis sanguisuga)
The horse leech is the biggest leech found in Poland. It is not a parasitic animal but a predatory species. It feeds on oligochaetes, molluscs insect larvae. It can be 6 – 10 cm long.
The dorsal side of the horse leech is plain dark, not patterned. The ventral side is much lighter than its dorsal side, in most cases – yellow and grey. It inhabits fresh waters, banks of streams, slowly flowing rivers, ponds, wetlands, lakes. It usually stays on land , close to water, especially when the ground is really damp.
Leeches in world museums
In museums all over the world we can find containers for keeping leeches dating back to the times when leeches therapies were most commonly applied.
Vases for leeches – from 1801 – 1834 and 1830 – 1859
Numerous illustrations in books confirm a huge popularity of the worms in the past
In the past leeches were collected by people wading through water reservoirs. Leeches attached to legs, and then they were removed and kept in barrels. The profession of leech collectors was well-paid. Leeches were used in huge numbers, which contributed to a dramatic decrease in their population.
Leech trade in the Far East and Asia Minor
In Far East countries and in Turkey, e.g. Istanbul, leeches are sold by kilograms on local markets, where sellers neglect any and all hygiene requirements or procedures. Such practices are also met in India.
Leech trade in streets
Leech procedures in India
Leech therapy sessions are extremely popular in India. They take place in streets and a lot of people decide for such a therapy. Obviously, there is no hygiene control during such sessions.
Leech application in streets - Leech Therapy