Leech Therapy

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In New Jersey and New York History - Biology - Application

Some of The Benefits of Using Holistic Leech Therapy:

  • Mental and Physical Relaxation
  • Better Blood Circulation
  • Reduction of Inflammation and Infection
  • Reduction or Elimination of Pain
  • Elimination of Arthritis (80%)
  • Reduction of Toxin and Blood Clots
  • Tissue Revitalization
  • Skin Disorders Elimination or Reduction
  • Brain Cells Rejuvenation and Better Synapses of Neurons
  • Help Fight Dementia Diseases such as Alzheimer's
  • Lower The risk of Having Heart Attack or Stroke
  • Leg ulcer or Thrombosis Elimination of Reduction
  • Reduction of Spider Veins
  • Improvement of Digestion and Memory
  • Promote Instant Mobility by Repairing Joints and Reducing Inflammation
  • Tinnitus, Glaucoma, Gingivitis, Ear Ringing Elimination or Reduction
  • Sexual Enhancement (Better Blood and Better Brain Function by balancing ANS)
  • Longevity
History Leeches have been used since ancient time in traditional medicine by doctors and practitioners. Throughout history, leech treatments were very useful and had enjoyed periods when they had been in great demand in France, specially during the 19th century. After that century, leech treatments were disappeared almost completely. There were abandoned and even were the subject of many ridiculous articles and books. In the middle of the 20th century, leeches have regained their popularity once again. Because of that giant return to modern medicine, it makes sense to know and to understand the history of leeches that scientists call medicinal leeches.
Who first used leeches for treating sicknesses, where and when that kind of therapy started? It is very hard to believe that Themison of Laodicea in the 1st century BC, was the first person to have used leech therapy.  Before Themison there were other attributions of  people who could be the first ones to have used leeches in treatments. The Greeks and Latin writers from ancient times (PLAUTUS, CICERO, HORACE) talked and wrote about leeches under many names (bdella, sanguisuga or hirudo). For instance, in Greece, NICANDER of Colophon (185-138 BC).
Could there be another person? An eminent physician from India in ancient times could be the first to have applied leech on human for the purpose of treating diseases because the Ayurverdic Medicine mentioned leech treatment on humans, which is dated many thousands years ago. In fact, a lot of leech researchers mentioned in their studies India as the country where leech therapy originated.  Sushruta  who was an ancient Indian surgeon ( 800 BC) and was the author of the book The Sushruta Samhita in which he described over 300 surgical procedures, 120 surgical instruments and classified human surgery in eight categories. And he also named over 1,100 diseases and discovered over 700 plants, which helped him treat the diseases he discovered. It is mentioned that he used to apply leech for treatment on human.  That could be understood because he was a surgeon among many other titles he had as a physician. He could have been the first holistic alternative practitioner.

Furthermore, it was related that the God of India had 4 leeches in his hands.  Let’s take a huge step from BC to A.D era. InFrance there are many books regarding leech treatments and methods for applications. Many of them were written many centuries ago. Gironde which is a city in France was the most famous and the most known for leech therapy. France had become the most famous country in Western Europe for leech therapy in the 18 and 19 centuries. Francois Broussaint who was Napoleon Bonaparte’s doctor was the most famous leech therapist in his time. He was well known in the leech industry and called his leech practice vampirism for using too many leeches in his treatments. He is very important to know that he saved a lot of lives with leech and other natural medicines.

The Leech Leaders
The French leech company, Ricarimpex, wrote about an article that was written in 1949 in which the anonymous author recommended medicinal leeches for visceral congestion, pericarditis, myelitis, laryngeal oedema, angina pectoris, hemiplegia, other congestive and inflammatory disorders (headaches, dizziness, otitis, sprains and dislocations, contusions, etc. It could have been that article that came from Russia because many Russian researchers who have studied hirudotherapy mentioned most of the diseases in that article. That article could have been the subject of many studies back then and up to now in Russia and Germany.
Germany and Russia are now in the for front of leech technology and  development, but in 1884 the English Professor of Physiology at the University of Wales, John B Haycraft whose Hirudin discovery from the leech saliva had led medicinal leeches to modern medicine. That happened because in the middle of the 16th century, Conrad GESSNER of Zurich offered a detailed description of the medical leech and advocated its use in medicine. And Jérôme Negrisoli published a work on the application of leeches in the field of gynecology, which is being practice in Russia. Modern medicine had gotten enough insights, studies and proof to fast forward leech therapy to a new level, leech applications in micro and constructive surgery by applying leeches on flaps and other body parts to facilitate blood flow. As a proof 1960 was the year for the two Slovenian surgeons, the followers of the Parisian surgeon,  Philippe-Frédéric, who in 1836 pioneered leech reconstruction surgery by fixing a nose; and after whom the two Slovenian surgeons, M. Derganc and F. Zdravic who published a paper in the British Journal of Plastic Surgery in 1960 describing leech-assisted tissue flap surgery (in which a flap of skin is freed or rotated from an adjacent body area to cover a defect or injury). That paper and many other studies had helped put leech therapy in the list of approved and classified medical devices in the very early of the 21st century, the year of 2004.
The French made it again by having the first approval for the marketing of medicinal leeches in North America.  2004 was really the greatest year for the surgeons and other physicians who have worked with leeches in micro and constructive surgery. That was the year the FDA approved the request of the French company, Ricarimpex, for the commercialization of medicinal leeches in the United States.  This approval of medicinal leeches as a medical device in the field of plastic and reconstructive surgery has helped LEECH USA to do the commercialization of the medicinal leeches in United States for the French company. Leech USA has been selling medicinal leeches since 1986.
Carolina Biological Supply Company is probably the oldest company that has been selling leeches since 1927 in United States.
Based on that approval it is clear that medicinal leech therapy has made a big step in modern medicine. Yes, that was a good news! Now the leech therapists have to work harder to make leech therapy more popular and more acceptable in the holistic alternative practice. A better and more education is required to make leech therapist a mainstream profession like chiropractor or acupuncturist here in the United States and abroad. In fact, The FDA  in  TAB 4 Momerandum under Section 12 – Labeling subtitled: Directions for use, mentioned the following: “Instructions should encourage local institutional training programs designed to familiarize users with the features of the device and how to use it in a safe and effective manner.” That is why many institutions like BiebertalerBlutegelzucht and Dr. D. Kähler Schweizer are providing a solid training for certified leech therapists. The hope is to obtain state and federal licenses for alternative leech therapists, so more people can benefit from the multiple curative effects of medicinal leech therapy, and in so doing a new chapter in the history of Hirudo Medicinalis will be written for the next generation. Biology
Biology of Leeches - Focus on Medicinal Leeches Etymology Leech: Middle English leche, from Old English lǣce; akin to Old High German lāhhi physician. It is very possible that the word "Leech" was in use to identify this kind of worm, leech, before the 12th century. Hirudo (leech) definition from The Latin word: Hirudo is come from hoero, which means “I adhere to”, and Sanguisuga from the word sanguis – blood – and suga – I suck.
Leech in different languages: In French: Sangsue; German: Egel; Spanish: Sanguijuela; and Russian: пиявка.
In the Bible, the word leech appears under the name aluka and in many Arabic accounts under the name aleca. In English, the old meaning of leech stands for doctor. The word leech means doctor or physician or surgeon, which demonstrates its use in ancient medicine.
Leeches were created many million years ago (300 - 600 million years), there are about 600 to 700 species of leech around the world. In Minisotta, USA, alone there were over 120 species. In Australia there are many species. In 1554, Guillaume RONDELET who was a naturalist was able to present the fist descriptions of the different species of leeches in his “Natural History of Fishes”. Hirudo Medicinalis

Scientific classification was indicated by LINNAEUS in 1735 Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Annelida
Class: Clitellata
Subclass: Hirudinea
There were many books written about leeches, but in the 19th century numerous monographs were dedicated to this curative animal, leech: VITET -1809, Treaty of Medical Leeches, MOQUIN-TANDON - 1827, Monograph of the Hirudinea family, MARTIN - 1847, Paper on the issue of leeches and FERMOND -1854, Monograph of the medical leech. Very early in the 20th century, the French pharmacopoeia gave a detailed description of the pigmentary characteristics of the medical leech. And 2006 a group of German researchers published "Blutegeltherapy" which means medicinal Leech Therapy. This book provides a lot of information about leech with a scientific approach. This book was translated in English in 2007. The Morphology of leeches (medicinal Leeches)
The Hirudo medicinalis (leech) is a segmented worm that is dorsoventrally flattened. The length of its body varies depending on whether it is observed extended or contracted in its “olive” form. European medicinal leeches come in a great number of varieties. Leeches have different pigmentation, which make it possible to differentiate them between different varieties.
The Hungarian leech is bigger than the German leech. The back of the leech is brightly coloured with various shades: dark green, brick red, yellow and black.The median band of its dorsal surface is dark green, demarcated on each side by an evenly serrated, thin black line. Its ventral surface is green (Verbena) and the Hirudo ventral surface is close to a light yellow color.
There are many other types of leeches in America, Asia, Europe and the Caribbean Islands and some of them have a median emerald green band demarcated on each side by a thin, straight black line on their dorsal surface. They are very smooth to the touch, with two black stripes running along each edge. Many other leeches have a yellowish-green longitudinal median band demarcated on each side by a black line on their dorsal surface. Their ventral surface is yellowish green and very smooth to the touch with a straight black stripe.
Hirudo medicinalis has been the focus of most scientific studies for many hundreds years . This annelid from the subclass Hirudinea has 2 suckers, an anterior (head) and a posterior (back), The back is bigger than the anterior. The Hirudinea has 32 brains. It has between 80 to 100 tiny small teeth in each jaw, in total it has between 240 to 300 teeth. It is hermaphrodite, which means it has two reproductive organs: Ovaries and testes.
Leeches usually have three jaws but the Australian land leech has only two jaws and make a V-shaped incision. In general leeches make a Y-shaped incision when they attach to its prey. Their size range between 7 mm long to 300 mm when extended and very agile to extend or reduce their length. They normally breathe with their body and they have anaerobic breathing system, which means they can breathe without oxygen unlike human. The two main types of Leeches:
1. Hirudinea: the 'true' leeches – marine, freshwater and terrestrial – which have suckers at both ends and lack chaetae (bristles). 2. Acanthobdellida: a small northern hemisphere infraclass ectoparasitic on salmonid fish, which lacks an anterior sucker and retains chaetae. The Hirudinea is further divided into two:
A. Rhynchobdellida: jawless marine and freshwater leeches with a protrusible proboscis and true vascular system B. Arynchobdellida: jawed and jawless freshwater and terrestrial leeches with a non-protrusible muscular pharynx and a haemo-coelomic system.
Most leeches are freshwater animals, but there are terrestrial and marine species. Nourishment
Most leeches are sanguivorous, that is they feed as blood sucking parasites on certain hosts. If their preferred food is not available most leeches will feed on other classes of host to feed themselves. Some feed on the blood of mammals including humans, while other leeches suck fish, frogs, turtles or birds. Some leeches will even take a meal from other sanguivorous leeches, which may die after the attack, but this does not happen very often. Sanguivorous leeches can ingest blood up to 10 times of their body weight in just one meal. After feeding the leeches retire to a dark spot to digest the blood. Digestion is very slow and this enables them to survive during very long fasting periods (up to 2 years).
Senses and Mobility
Medicinal leeches have 5 pairs of eyes, but they do not see the full spectrum of a picture, although leeches can find their way almost perfectly. Smell, taste and touch are well-developed, which help leeches to survive. It is worth noticing that leeches wonderfully respond to smell of items that are deep down the water. They can't live in contaminated and smelly water. Medicinal Leech can't be closed to salt, beer, wine, chlorine, alcohol, etc. If they do they will be killed almost instantly. Leeches don’t walk, but they move by either an undulating swimming motion (eel like) or by an inch-worm like crawl using both, the anterior and posterior suckers.
Coupling and reproduction
Leeches often die after one or two bouts of reproduction. Leech are hermaphrodite, which means they have both male and female sex organs. Like the earthworms they also have a clitellum, a region of thickened skin which is only obvious during the reproductive period. Mating involves the intertwining of bodies where each deposits sperm in the others' clitellar area. Rhyncobdellids leeches have no penis but produce sharp packages of sperm, which are forced through the body wall. There are about 6 stages for reproduction to take place in a cocoon. The leech shrugs itself free of the cocoon, sealing it as it passes over the head.
The cocoon is either buried or attached to a rock, log or leaf and dries to a foamy crust. After several weeks or months, the young emerge as miniature adults. Experts believe that the cocoons are capable of surviving the digestive system of a duck. After birth leeches can live up to 19 or 30 years.
Application Leech in Modern Medicine: Hirudin in medicinal leech is the main focus of modern medicine and because of that medicinal leech therapy has enjoyed a great comeback in modern medicine. In United States and around the world medical doctors are using with great success medicinal leeches in reconstructive microsurgery. Venous congestion is decreased using hirudo medicinalis application such as following replantation of amputated legs, fingers or congested flaps. They provide an important relief to venous engorgement while venous drainage is re-established.
The traditional way is getting better and more people can benefit from leech therapy The old fashion way of applying medicinal leech is gone, but new techniques and knowledge are being used by leech therapists in Russia, Germany, France, Turkey, England, Spain, and even here in the United States to help people in so many areas of health and prevention. The Russian and the German leech therapists and Medical Doctors are using leech therapy to treat arthritis, venous diseases, gout, psoriasis, pain, aches, etc.
In November 2010 in Los Angeles, California, The BTER Foundation wrote a very important brochure to promote Biomedicine. Leech therapy has a wide-range of application according to them. Read the bellow paragraph: "The objective of our study is to summarize the experience of modern medicine in hirudotherapy clinical effectiveness in different human diseases and disorders, based on more than 10-years of good clinical observations, experimental data and special literature overview. The first part of the report will address some new experimental findings on anti-inflammatory, antiedemic, decongestive, immunomodulative and regenerative properties of leeching. Curative and preventive healing effects of aspirative and non-aspirative types of leeching will be described in experimental rat models.
The report provides comprehensive information on a wide-range of clinical applications of leeches - in internal medicine, microvascular and reconstructive surgery, synosteology, neurology, gynecology, ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiology, maxillofacial surgery and dentistry. The clinical part of the report also presents numerous case histories of patients who have had different diseases successfully treated with leeches. This presentation will include clinical photographs, line drawings and schematic figures to assist in our understanding of hirudotherapy.
We will also focus on some actual problems associated with hirudotherapy: bioethics, temporal toxicity of leeches, bioutilization, hirudotherapy combination with other pharmacotherapy and physiotherapy methods and etc. Special attention will be paid to leeching side effects: why they occur, how to recognize them, and how to prevent or treat them. Cupping techniques will also be addressed. Finally, recommendations for using the leeches in clinical practice will be made, based on controlled randomized trials." Certified leech therapist experts who practice holistic natural medicine can help the body recover from many other health problems by applying leech therapy combined with other natural applications.