Leeches - Biotherapy with Hirudo Medicinalis/ Hirudo Verbana
"Avoid nostrums and patent medicines. The habitual use of any drug is harmful. The most eminent physicians are now agreed that very few drugs have any real curative value. The essential thing is right habits of life."
~John Harvey Kellogg
Applying and monitoring the leeches (and the patient) takes a lot of time and effort. Please note that hirudotherapy, which seems simple at first, is, quite frankly, not simple at all. This therapy procedure should not be performed without a professional hirudotherapist.
The hirudotherapy application is based on an individual approach for each patient, the patient's specific disease, their age, weight, physical condition and many other aspects, as discussed earlier, that are analyzed by the hirudotherapist prior to the beginning of the session. Please remember that we all have a very different, individual reactions to any type of hirudotherapy applied, so, my answers to your questions will not be unified nor generalized; you will learn from me the variety of examples and reactions from numerous of my past and current clients, based on my years of experience with hirudotherapy.
The older the disease is, the longer it will take to heal and the more hirudotherapy treatments are required. However, it is suggested that the total hirudo-complexo-therapy should not be perform more than 3 times per year. A treatment of minimum 3 up to 12 sessions are required with 1, 2, 3, 4, or 7-10 * day intervals between each one and have to be completed by the patient in a timely fashion, if seeking the successful results. You will be informed on any and all methods used, recommendations, indications, and contraindications.
The bloodletting after the suction should not be prevented; it increases the effectiveness of the therapy and has a cleaning effect, as well. In addition, thereby the wound during the post-bleeding time is totally cleaned from the germs. The bloodletting usually lasts up to 8-14 hours. During the day of the treatment and one day after, the client should avoid any heavy physical activities.
To reliably prevent the loss of relevant quantities of blood, the leech therapist should not use more than 10 leeches in a single treatment session*.
* There are always certain exclusions due to the health status and pathology being treated.
A leech's body is composed of 34 segments.The head of the leech comes from a non-segmented region. All leeches have an anterior (oral) sucker formed from the first six segments of their body, which is used to connect to a host for feeding, and also release an anesthetic to prevent the host from feeling the leech. They use a combination of mucus and suction (caused by concentric muscles in those six segments) to stay attached and secrete an anti-clotting enzyme, hirudin, and other bio-active proteins into the host's lymphatic system and blood stream.The other action of leeches is blood taking. One leech exhausts from 5 to 10 ml lymph/blood. Bleeding lasts for some hours(about 12-24 hours) and the patient loses about 20-30 ml of lymph/blood.Thus due to influence of 5 leeches simultaneously the patient loses 100-150 ml of lymph/blood. Thus, it is creating conditions of a stable and lasting many hours drainage and venous unloading of the given area, in the certain area there usually is an improvement of microcirculation, the nutrition of tissues, cellular exchange; venous stagnation is usually liquidated and the ischemia of organ is usually eliminated. After a treatment course consisting of 5-10 procedures using from 4 to 10 leeches - a good clinical effect is marked. At the cardiovascular pathology leading to decomposition of blood circulation (ishemic heart disease, intimate defect) the leeches appointing to the area of a liver authentically reduce increased arterial pressure, leads to reducing the stagnation in the liver, to improvement of lung ventilation and unloading the heart. Small blood spots develop below the skin around the leech bite. As with superficial bruising, the blood spots are initially reddish violet, then turn yellowish, and finally disappear within around two-three weeks, up to the complete healing. Patient also should be informed about the mild to intense "itching sensation" that might, or might not, occur. The wound normally itches for few days, but should not be scratched as this may complicate healing and introduce a secondary infection. An antihistamine can reduce itching, and applying a cold pack, or cold water mixed with lemon juice, can reduce pain or swelling.
Modern hirudotherapy differs from the ancient one because now we do not use wild leeches: instead we use leeches grown at special bio-farm, bio-labs, where they are in a severe quarantine.
Nowadays we use a leech only once. This fact completely excludes the chance of infecting a patient.
Leeches normally carry parasites in their digestive tract which cannot survive in humans and do not pose a threat.
Hirudo Medicinalis and Hirudo Verbana have virtually an obligatory symbiotic relationship with the bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila (=Pseudomonas hirudinis), the only species of bacteria which lives in its gut (Zirpolo 1923; Lehmensick 1941,1942; Hornbostel 1941; Busing 1951, 1953; Wilde 1976; Jennings and Van der Lande 1967; Whitlock, O'Hare, Saunders and Marrow 1983). Aeromonas hydrophila is important in the life of Hirudo Medicinalis in several respects:
- It secretes an antibiotic which prevents the growth of other bacteria;
- It contributes enzymes which play a major role in leeches digestion;
- and also in production of deficient vitamins.
[Leech Biology and Behavior, Volume II Feeding, Biology, Ecology and Systematics, 1985 Roy T. Sawyer]
Leeches are hermaphrodites, meaning each one of them has both female and male reproductive organs. Leeches reproduce by reciprocal fertilization, and sperm transfer occurs during copulation. The leech exercising the role of the male will grow a sperm sack near the end of its tail, and the leech playing the female will bite it off, thus reproducing. Similarly to the earthworms, leeches also use a clitellum to hold their eggs and secrete the cocoon.
"During reproduction leeches utilize hypodermic injection of their sperm. Once next to another leech, the two will line up with their anterior side opposite the other's posterior. The leech then shoots the spermatophore into the clitellur region of the opposing leech where its sperm will make its way to the female reproductive parts." [Wikipedia...]
Breeding and feeding leeches:
When leeches mate, they secrete a cocoon to house the fertilized eggs. Within 3-5 weeks, about 15 to 50 young leeches, just an inch long, squirm out in search of a blood meal. The young leeches need two sessions of feeding, and two 4-5 months in - between "to digest the meal", before they are ready to "work". again.
It takes about 150 days before the powerful agents/ hirudo-substances could be fully produced
by the leech and collected in the leech's salivary glands.
It takes a cycle of 2 & 1/2 to 3 years of age before the leeches are ready to bread.
Dr. Alicja, 347-981-6171
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