Leeches—Repulsive or Restorative?

For centuries Eastern cultures have commonly used leeches in medicine. But now the leeches are moving West. Yes, the Food and Drug Administration in the United States cleared the sale of leeches for skin rejuvenation in 2004 — along with maggots.

While European pharmaceutical companies have focused on isolating therapeutic, blood-thinning chemicals in the venom of leeches and delivering it in a less “creepy” manner, they have failed.

Leeches—Repulsive or Restorative?

What makes leeches so interesting? In Russian tradition, the restorative benefits are seen in the venom. The venom contains a natural anticoagulant prescribed as a preventive treatment for stroke and heart disease.

Some choose leeches for cost savings and to avoid taking painkillers. They want something natural, to minimize the chemicals. Others apply leeches to treat glaucoma, prostatitis, hypertension and many more ailments. One doctor encourages patients to use them in conjunction with standard drug treatments. As they engorge themselves with blood, the leeches bulge to six to seven times their original size before dropping off.

For more information on possible side effects and personal benefits consult with your doctor.