Hirudo Therapy (Leech Therapy)

Hirudo Therapy takes part in Regeneration stage in the RTM System. It takes place in the processes of Cleaning the Body and Supporting the Systems in the treatment triad. It is effective on physical, chemical and electrical body structures. it is aimed to clean the blood containing heavy metals and free radicals accumulated in the connective tissue of the Physical Body, to accelerate the blood circulation, and to support the circulatory system with Hirudo Therapy applications in the RTM System. With the leeches placed on the acupuncture points, it is ensured that the "qi" energy in the Channel Body circulates smoothly in all the meridians, and the irregularities in the Electrical Body are eliminated.

What is Hirudotherapy (Leech Therapy)?

One of the oldest known treatment methods in medicine is Hirudotherapy. It is a treatment method performed with Hirudo Medicinalis, a medical leech, which is from the ringed worms class. About 100 different enzymes secreted by leeches attached to certain points in the body are utilized.

How does Leech Therapy work?

Leeches are known among the people as living things that suck the dirty blood in the body. Actually, medicinal leeches give nearly 100 useful enzymes to the body from where they are attached, in return for the blood they suck. These enzymes have anticoagulant, anticoagulant, analgesic, muscle relaxant, antidepressant, vasodilator, immune-supportive, nerve-revitalizing, anti-inflammatory effects.

On the other hand, it is thought that the medical leech also stimulates the acupuncture points from where it clings, and the sound wave it emits also has a bioresonance wave effect.

How is Leech Therapy done?

First of all, disposable medical leeches to be used in treatment are obtained from certified leech production farms and have never been in contact with any living thing before. The patient who will be treated with leech should be adequately examined by the physician, his/her allergic status should be questioned and examined.

Do not go hungry for treatment. Before the procedure, the area to be treated should be cleaned and sterilized from substances such as perfume and cream that leeches are sensitive to. In order for the leech to be gripped easily, the surface must not be sweaty. Afterwards, the leeches are placed at the determined points. Although there is a slight biting sensation, such as a pinprick at the first moment, thanks to the local anesthetic substances secreted by the leech, no pain is felt during the procedure.

After about 20 to 60 minutes, the leech usually leaves the place it clings to, but it can also be taken if necessary. The bleeding is stopped with the dressing applied after the procedure. Dressings should not be removed, swimming and showering should be avoided for 24 hours.

Which parts of the body is leech therapy applied to?

Leech therapy can be applied to every part of the human body, except the ones listed below:

Areas where leech therapy is inconvenient:

  • Soft skin areas such as the eyelid and surrounding areas
  • Keratinized areas such as soles and palms
  • Important veins in areas such as neck, groin, armpits

What kind of creature is a leech?

The body of leeches, which are in the ringed worms group and have more than 800 species, consists of segments. The segments at both ends are called the tug. They use the rear for attachment, while the frontmost has 3 jaws.

Leeches used for therapeutic purposes in diseases are Hirudo Medicinalis and Hirudo Verbana species. Hirudo Medicinalis’ height is approximately 10-15 cm, and its weight is 3-6.5 grams. Leeches have senses of taste and smell, but lack of sight and hearing. There are more than 100 medicinal bioactive compounds in the secretion that the leech produces in return for the blood it sucks.

The known bioactive secretion contents of medicinal leeches are as follows:

  • Hirudin: Anticoagulant
  • Hemtin: Fibrinolytic
  • Hemterin: Fibrinolytic
  • Ghilanten: Prothrombinase Inh.
  • Anti-statin: Prothrombinase Inh.
  • Piatin: Neurotrophic
  • Calin: Tr. agg. İnh.
  • Decorsin: Tr. agg. İnh.
  • Destabilase: F XIII İnh.

Who Can Have Leech Therapy?

Leech therapy can be applied to anyone who is determined by the physician to be suitable for leech therapy and does not have any health problems that may cause an obstacle.

In which cases and to whom is leech therapy not applied?

  • When using blood thinners or herbs
  • When there is an active bleeding point in the body
  • When bleeding diathesis such as hemophilia
  • In case of severe anemia (Hb < 10)
  • Before any surgical procedure
  • During pregnancy and breastfeeding period
  • Those with extreme allergies
  • In people with heart failure
  • In case of uncontrolled diabetes
  • In psychiatric patients who will not comply with treatment
  • In cases of cirrhosis
  • those with HIV
  • Those undergoing chemotherapy or radiotherapy

For Which Diseases Is Leech Therapy Applied?

  • All immune system problems
  • metabolic diseases
  • Wide variety of eye diseases
  • Infections
  • COPD and asthma diseases
  • migraine headaches
  • Joint and muscle pains
  • Rheumatoid arthritis and other rheumatic diseases
  • Arthrosis and joint calcifications
  • Tennis elbow ailment
  • Waist and neck hernias
  • Urological diseases
  • Digestive system diseases
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • Gynecological diseases
  • Psychological problems such as depression
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Degenerative nervous system diseases
  • Fibromyalgia and restless legs syndrome-like diseases
  • Cardiovascular diseases such as high blood pressure, atherosclerosis
  • Hemorrhoids (piles)
  • Skin diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, acne, urticaria
  • Elimination of aesthetic problems such as scars and stains on the skin

What are the benefits of Leech Therapy?

Leech therapy is used in the treatment of many physical and mental diseases. Some of the scientific features of the 100 enzymes secreted by the leech are as follows:

  • Analgesic (pain reliever)
  • Myorelaxant (muscle relaxant)
  • Neurotrophic (nerve cell regenerative)
  • Antirheumatic
  • Antibacterial
  • Antioxidant (anti-toxin/harmful substance)
  • Antihypertensive
  • Antidepressant

Does Leech Therapy have side effects?

Hirudotherapy is not a practice that can have serious side effects when applied by trained doctors under the right conditions. In people with sensitive skin, structure, slight redness, crusting, and bleeding lasting up to 12 hours can be seen. Reactions may also occur in allergic bodies.

Is Leech Therapy safe?

It is an extremely safe treatment method when applied by specialist doctors under appropriate conditions. However, faulty and wrong applications can cause serious problems. For instance, placing the leech on the wrong place, making it vomit and using again, using it for another person, applying more than enough leeches at one time can lead to serious damage such as infections, infectious diseases and blood loss. So, physicians who have received hirudotherapy training should perform this treatment with certified products and in ministry-approved centers.

Leech Therapy in the World

leech therapy is described as a unique treatment method In today’s world in terms of its biological effects. For example, according to the German Medicines Law, Hirudo Medicinalis is defined as a ready-made medicine and there are more than 300 Hirudotherapy Clinics in the country. 100 million medicinal leeches are used annually In Europe.

In 2004, the FDA (American Food and Drug Administration) accredited leech therapy and allowed it to be sold in pharmacies as in Europe. The association founded by Hirudotherapy Specialist Doctors in America, has more than 1000 members.

Is it valid in the Scientific Literature?

There are hundreds of studies on Hirudotherapy in the scientific literature. Based on the results of scientific research, the secretion that leeches give to the body while sucking blood contains more than 100 bioactive substances detected so far.

History of Leech Therapy

Hirudotherapy, or leech therapy, has been used by physicians for therapeutic purposes since ancient times. The origin of the first known sources about leech therapy goes back to the Babylonian physicians who lived in the 15th century BC. It is also known that it is one of the indispensable treatment methods used by Egyptian physicians in the 3rd century BC.

According to the records, the physician Nikandros, who lived on the Aegean coasts in the 2nd century BC, the Greek physician Pliny in the 1st century AD, and Galen in the 2nd century AD performed leech therapy. Leech therapy was also included in the works of the famous scholar Ibn Sina.

Leech therapy has tended to be forgotten with the alienation of humanity from nature and the effect of industrialization. The use of leeches for medicinal purposes started again with the reintroduction of the characteristics of Hirudotherapy by the American researcher Roy Sawyer and the establishment of the world’s first modern leech production farm (Biopharm – England).

Frequently Asked Questions

Sülük nasıl muhafaza ediliyor? How is the leech preserved?

Certified medical leeches produced in private leech production farms are brought to the application area under appropriate and sterile conditions. They should be stored in a cool area under 22°C, away from sun, and should be checked every 2-3 days. The water is changed with appropriate frequency to prevent the oxygen level from decreasing. If there is a dead leech, it should be removed immediately.

They are prepared and used in the required number by the doctor who will do the treatment. After the leeches are separated from the patient, they should be destroyed under appropriate conditions and never to be used again. therefore, they should be submitted to the relevant authorities together with the medical waste form.

How many days is leech therapy applied?

It is usually applied in 2 sessions per week although it varies according to the condition of the disease and the patient. In some cases, 3 or 4 sessions a week may be necessary, while in some people, one session per week or 10 days may be sufficient.

Is the leech disposable?

Using the leech only once is very important in many respects. Just like injectors, leeches should only be used for one person and then disposed of as medical waste. Çünkü kanla bulaşıcı hastalığı taşıma ihtimalinden dolayı sağlık için tehdit oluşturacaktır.

In addition, leeches should not be reused, even for the same person. When the leech is full by sucking as much blood as it can take, the beneficial enzymes it secretes are almost gone and it takes months for them to regenerate. Therefore, their re-use after a short time will not be curative.

What should be considered in the treatment of leeches?

  • First of all, it should be noted that the treatment is administered by a doctor who has received Hirudotherapy training and that the place where the procedure is performed is approved by the ministry.
  • It should be determined by the physician that this treatment is suitable for your disease and that you do not have a risky condition that will prevent the treatment.
  • Blood thinners should not be used for 3 days before the treatment and should not be hungry longer than 4 hours.
  • It is important to apply sterile and disposable leeches in the appropriate number and size to the correct points In order for the treatment to be beneficial and not harmful.
  • The leech should fall by itself or with help, it should not be lifted by force. Because their jaws can remain on the skin, which can cause infections, ecchymosis and scars.
  • The dressings should remain for 24 hours after the treatment,  and during this period, one should not take a shower or enter the sea or pool.

When does leech bleeding stop?

Dressing is applied to stop the bleeding after the procedure. In some cases, bleeding can last for 4 to 48 hours. Dressing should not be removed and the area should be kept dry 24 hours.

How long should the leech stay?

The duration of hirudotherapy may vary according to the sucking time of the leeches. It usually takes between 20 minutes and 1 hour.

How much blood does a leech suck?

The leech is kept hungry for a long time before application and sucks approximately 5-15 ml of blood in one session.

How many sessions of leech therapy should be done on the face?

The quantity of sessions of leech therapy applied on the face area, regarding wrinkle removal, acne scars, sun spots, skin whitening, skin dryness, varies according to the condition and needs of the skin.

Can one take a shower after the leech?

The dressing applied after leech therapy should not be removed for 24 hours. Do not take a shower or enter the sea or pool.

Is leech good for hemorrhoids?

Hemorrhoids, also known as piles, are enlarged veins around the anal canal. Leech therapy helps to reduce pain and swelling caused by hemorrhoids and dissolves blood clots that have formed before.

Is leech good for calcification?

When medicinal leeches are applied to joints and vertebrae that have arthrosis, they provide healing in the area because of the features of the enzymes they secrete into the body.

Will there be bruising after the leech?

Temporary bruising or redness can be seen at the points where the leech is applied especially on sensitive skin.

Is leech therapy applied to the eye?

In applications to be made around the eyes, smallest leeches should be selected and should not be kept for more than 5 minutes. The leech should never be pulled from the place it clings to, and be allowed to leave on its own.

Is leech good for atherosclerosis?

Thanks to their effects such as increasing the fluidity of the blood and preventing coagulation, the enzymes secreted by the leeches are good for vascular occlusion,.

Is leech made in winter?

Medical leech application is also used in preventive medicine due to its antioxidant, antibacterial and immune system strengthening effects. Leech therapy, which is done annually, has a protective effect against many diseases, especially infections, and can be applied in all seasons, including winter.

Does leech rejuvenate?

There are skin-healing effects in the secretions of the leech. It is used in many countries for skin care. It accelerates blood circulation, reduces wrinkles on the skin and has a rejuvenating effect on the skin.

Is leech good for facial paralysis?

Leech therapy and acupuncture, which are traditional and complementary medicine applications, accelerate the recovery of facial paralysis and reduce tissue and dysfunction.

What to do if the leech does not leave?

When the leech does not leave the skin on its own, a light alcohol or grounded turmeric can be poured to the area. The point to be considered while taking the leech is not to induce vomiting.

Is leech good for sinusitis?

Leech therapy is an effective treatment against sinusitis, blockage of sinus canals and inflammation of the area.