Leeches often make people feel ticklish or disgusted when they see them. However, these animals are actually known to have various health benefits, namely through leech therapy.
Leech therapy has been known for a long time, even before the days of modern medicine. In the past, leech therapy was believed to be able to overcome nervous system disorders, dental and skin problems, relieve pain, treat inflammation, and infections.
However, not just any leeches are used for therapy. The leeches used for treatment are Hirudo species, namely Hirudo medicinalis, Hirudo troctina, Hirudo nipponia, Hirudo quinquestriata, Poecilobdella granulosa, Hirudinaria javanica, Hirudinaria manillensis, Haementeria officinalis, Hirudo orientalis, and Haementeria depressand which were developed in a special environment. The leech's bite will leave a Y-shaped mark, which will heal without a scar.
Leech Therapy Benefits
Leeches that are specifically used for medicine, generally secrete saliva which contains more than 100 types of protein when sucking blood, although only a few have been proven to cure. This protein has medical effects, such as improving blood circulation, relieving pain, to anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects.
- Melancarkan circulation blood and prevent blockage
Many plastic surgery and microsurgery use leech therapy because of these two benefits. Leech therapy can maintain blood circulation to the wound site to help the healing process. Surgical procedures that use leech therapy include surgery to attach a severed finger, and reconstructive surgery for the nose, lips, ears, or scalp. However, the effectiveness and safety of leech therapy as an anticoagulant still needs to be studied more deeply.
- Helps prevent cardiovascular and blood vessel disease
Leech therapy is known to be very effective in improving blood circulation while preventing blockage of blood vessels, making leeches widely used to treat blood circulation disorders and cardiovascular disease. In addition, leech saliva is thought to have an anti-pain, anti-inflammatory effect, and can dilate blood vessels.
Leech saliva is now widely used as a mixture of drugs for high blood pressure, hemorrhoids, varicose veins, and skin disorders. This is due to the effect of proteins in leeches that can prevent blockage of blood vessels, and help destroy blockages in blood vessels so as to improve blood flow to the affected part.
- Avoid complications in diabetics
Diabetes has a risk of complications, including blood vessel disorders that allow blocked blood flow to the hands, feet, and fingers. This can cause tissue to die, which is one of the reasons for amputation in diabetics.
Studies show, leech therapy can be useful in preventing this. Because leech therapy is able to improve blood circulation so that blood flow can reach tissue locations, without risking blockages. Researchers in a recent study revealed that four leeches in each therapy session can reduce the risk of amputation.
- Helps prevent the aging process
Besides being believed to help speed up the healing process after plastic surgery, leech therapy is also used as an antiaging treatment process because it contains antioxidants. This can then make a person feel more refreshed. However, the effectiveness of the therapeutic effect of leeches on aging-related diseases in general has not been widely studied clinically.
- Relieve pain in patients with osteoarthritis
Alleged researchers, leech saliva contains several anesthetic substances, which can help reduce pain. The anti-inflammatory properties of leech saliva also help reduce inflammation, thereby reducing joint swelling.
Consider the Risks
Leech therapy is widely chosen because it is relatively easy to do and the risk of side effects is relatively small. However, leech therapy also has risks that must be considered both for medical therapy and for cosmetic procedures.
The first thing to note is the type of leech used. Although it is called leech therapy, what is used is not wild leeches that exist in the wild. The leech used must be a special Hirudo type of treatment, stored in clean water that has been treated with chlorine, and must be at a temperature of 5-27°C. Then, leeches must also be protected from direct exposure to sunlight.
In addition, keep in mind that not everyone can undergo leech therapy. For those of you who experience the following conditions, you should avoid this therapy.
- Having a blood clotting disease, such as hemophilia, puts you at risk for prolonged bleeding after leech therapy.
- Have chronic anemia.
- Allergy to leech protein.
- Is pregnant.
- Have a weak immune system.
Leech therapy also carries a risk of bacterial infection. Therefore, it is important to consult a doctor about the use of leech therapy, including for cosmetic procedures, if you are interested in trying it. Before using leech therapy, ask your doctor first about its effectiveness and safety. Also make sure that leech therapy is carried out by professional medical personnel.
Leech therapy may have various benefits, but don't rush it. Always consult with your doctor first and choose the recommended therapy location.