Medicinal leeches were known centuries ago. They were used for bloodletting. Despite the passage of years and the emergence of new ways to fight various ailments, hirudotherapy is still a willingly used method. Its popularity has slightly decreased with the development of pharmacy, but it is back in favor again. In many countries, hirudotherapy has been approved as an official method of treatment, it is reimbursed and used for treatment on a daily basis. The saliva of leeches contains hirudin – a substance that prevents blood clotting and histamine, which causes blood vessels to expand. It is even said that the leech is an excellent pharmacological laboratory. There is also a question: what to use leeches for?
Use of leeches for varicose veinsi
Hirudotherapy is used as an adjuvant therapy or a replacement for pharmacotherapy and surgical treatment in the treatment of varicose veins. It is highly effective in the treatment of venous thrombosis, leg ulcers and even dermatitis. Hirudotherapy in the treatment of varicose veins reduces the feeling of heaviness in the legs and eliminates swelling. The skin is brightened and smoothed, and the pain is reduced.
Use of leeches in hypertension
A fast and stressful lifestyle, lack of physical activity, obesity, smoking and excessive alcohol consumption are just some of the factors that increase the risk of hypertension. Present in the saliva of leeches, PC-LS is a regulator of blood pressure. It lowers too high blood pressure values and increases too low ones. In addition, histamine also helps in the treatment of hypertension by dilating blood vessels.
Use of leeches for atherosclerosis
Atherosclerosis is a chronic disease consisting of degenerative changes in the inner and middle membranes of the arteries, causing them to harden. The direct cause of the development of the disease is too much cholesterol in the blood, which causes the formation of atherosclerotic plaques. Clinical studies show a beneficial effect of hirudotherapy on the level of lipid concentration in the human body. In patients undergoing therapeutic leech therapy, normalization of total cholesterol, triglycerides and a decrease in LDL were observed. Compounds injected into the blood by leeches not only regulate lipid levels, but also improve the condition of the vessels. Substances such as saratin and hirudin counteract the formation of atherosclerotic plaques, dissolve existing ones, and orgelase in severe ischemic cases causes the formation of collateral circulation and better blood supply to the limbs.
Use of leeches for hard-to-heal wounds
Difficult to heal wounds are a nagging problem. Not only do they look unsightly, but they also cause pain and discomfort. You have to be careful not to offend them with anything, which in the case of wounds occurring, for example, on the hands can be difficult. During hirudotherapy, analgesics released from the saliva of leeches eliminate the persistent pain that accompanies difficult to heal wounds. Among the valuable components of leech saliva in this case, the most important are bdelins, which accelerate regeneration processes even with difficult, long-lasting wounds, by inhibiting inflammatory factors and reducing swelling. The effectiveness of hirudotherapy has been confirmed in the treatment of bedsores, ulcers, wounds formed in diabetic or atherosclerotic foot syndrome, as well as other wounds that have arisen in accidents and more.
Use of leeches in lung diseases
Detected in the saliva of leeches, eglina has anti-inflammatory effects and is a strong inhibitor of enzymes that are involved in the pathogenesis of lung diseases, including emphysema, as well as in thrombotic disorders and other inflammatory processes. Due to its high effectiveness, hirudotherapy is used as an adjunct therapy in the treatment of lung and bronchial diseases. In patients suffering from bronchial asthma and pneumonia, treated with leeches, an improvement in health and well-being was observed.
Use of leeches in cosmetology
In the saliva of leeches there are substances that slow down the aging process and positively affect the condition of the skin. Egliny, because we are talking about them, have strong antioxidant and anticoagulant properties. Lipids also have a positive effect on beauty. Together with enzymes such as lipases and phospholipases, they are involved in the remodeling of phospholipids of the cell membrane of skin cells. During hirudotherapy, antielastase is also of great importance, which slows down the destruction of elastin, which delays skin aging. It has already been mentioned many times that leeches improve blood supply to the skin due to substances that cause the expansion of blood vessels.
Leeches and nervous system suport
During numerous scientific studies, the beneficial effects of hirudocompounds on stimulating the growth of nerve cells have been confirmed. Leeches provide the body with neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin or histamine, which are necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system. Due to the beneficial effect of hirudotherapy on human well-being, it is used in the treatment of neurosis and depression.
What else can leeches help with?
The list of diseases in which hirudotherapy can be used is much longer. Leeches can alleviate a number of ailments associated with:
- stomach and duodenal ulcers
- ischemic heart disease
- diseases of the spine
- prostatic hypertrophy
- some female diseases