Leech therapy in medical practice

Posted by Jelio Mir on

 Alternative practitioner from Lage treats patients with leeches

Helpers from nature: Naturopath Christiane Wagner has been relying on leech therapy for years. (© Sandra Castrup)

Location. A millennium-old treatment tradition is making a comeback: leech therapy. The little worms are like a biological pharmacy. Alternative practitioner Christiane Wagner from Lage has been using it successfully for almost ten years.

"The leeches have become a focus in my practice," says Wagner, raving about the "healing bites". "I put them specifically on the skin, they bite, soak up blood and give off their valuable saliva," the 46-year-old describes the procedure in short.

The little helpers' saliva is valuable because it contains about 30 different substances, the effects of which are comparable to medications such as cortisone. "There is a scientific study for this natural healing power", Wagner takes skeptics straight from the wind.

The fields of application of the leeches range from headaches to tinnitus to shoulder / arm syndrome, sports injuries or rheumatism. "I used the animals most often in patients with osteoarthritis, arthritis and pain in the musculoskeletal system," said the Lagenserin. "Inflammation is, so to speak, a feast, because it already smells of blood."

The suction cups, which are a few centimeters long, take five to thirty minutes to settle. It can take an hour before they are full and fall off. The digestion lasts a whole year, but it usually does not come to that. These animals only live for one treatment. Because they are potentially infectious, they have to be killed afterwards. "I used to drown them in vodka, but now I'm freezing them," Wagner also had to decide on a quick method. "As an animal lover and vegetarian, I started to argue with myself. But it has to be."

Of the approximately 600 species of leeches worldwide, there are only two to three that are truly called medicinal leeches and are bred on special farms. "I like these relatives of earthworms. But my fascination has finally flared up when I got my own severe hip pain under control years ago," reveals Christiane Wagner.

"Of course there are always people with whom the therapy does not work at all, but that is the exception," says the naturopath. The leeches are currently conquering accident therapy. In the Berlin Charité they are placed next to freshly sewn wounds so that they heal faster and better.

"I have not yet noticed a comeback here in Lippe. But the active substances in the leeches have been medically tested and therefore there is basically nothing to be said against treatment if the patient so wishes," said Dr. med. Markus Dickel from Detmold. The dermatologist doubts a "miracle" effect when using leeches.

Leeches therapy is centuries old

Leech therapy is one of the so-called rejection procedures. Leeches are placed in a suitable place so that they bring about a small bloodletting of about eight to ten milliliters of blood in order to discharge harmful substances from the organism. The anticoagulant substances contained in the saliva (saliva) of the animals lead to subsequent bleeding. Leech therapy is one of the oldest healing methods in the history of medicine. The first records come from Mesopotamia (3300 BC). The first descriptions come from Indian medicine. In Europe, leech therapy has been an indispensable part of therapies for various diseases from ancient times to the 19th century.