Leech therapy in all its versatility

Leech therapy in all its versatility

An old and reliable method


Leech therapy is a very old healing method. There are indications that people were treated in this way as early as the Stone Age. Today leeches are still used by many primitive people to cure diseases.


The medicinal leech (Hirudo medicinalis)

But leech therapy was used not only in primitive, but also in culturally more advanced peoples. Leech therapy became a widely recognized and widely used healing method.

“The leech, also called the cupping head, is less dangerous, even very healing, if it is to be used in large numbers. It is often found in tumors and inflammation. Like some people, he drinks until he can no longer. ”

Wilhelm Busch

Source: “The medical leech”, Prof. Dr. Konrad Herter; Publisher: DIE NEUE BREHM-BÜCHEREI



The treatment of leeches is always to be understood as a companion. The health problem should always be solved holistically!

  • Abscesses: Even if the leech does not always penetrate the upper skin layer over the purulent focus of an abscess, the ingredients in the leech saliva (saliva) manage to have the necrosis fluid removed more quickly. In this way, healthy tissue can grow back faster.
  • Arthritis: Since the leech improves the quality of the synovia (joint lubrication) and also has an anti-inflammatory effect, acute inflammatory osteoarthritis can be treated very well with leech therapy. The cells in the different tissues of a joint are better nourished by the treatment and the symptoms subside.
  • Osteoarthritis: Due to the pain-relieving effect of leech treatment, osteoarthritis can also be favorably influenced in the advanced stage. Since the pain is reduced, the affected joint can be moved more physiologically. If the joint partners already ossify, this is accelerated by the leech, but the stiffer joint is then painless.
  • Ataxia: Ataxia is a generic term for various movement coordination disorders. This can have very different causes and characteristics. Leeches treatment for ataxias is likely to have a positive effect due to the anti-inflammatory effect and the improved cell metabolism.
  • Disc herniation (discopathy): Existing inflammation and swelling due to a herniated disc heal faster with the use of the leech. In this way, relaxation and pain relief can be achieved through the space created.
  • Blood ear (ematoma): With a blood ear, blood accumulates between the skin and the cartilage of the auricle. The cause of this in dogs is usually a violent shaking of the head due to an ear infection or injury. Due to the natural bloodletting and the anticoagulant effect of the saliva of the leech, the blood ear can be treated.
  • Purulent wounds: leeches like to sit on purulent wounds that are more superficial than abscesses. The anti-inflammatory and antibacterial effect of the leech saliva ensures rapid healing. The stimulated blood flow cleanses the pus.
  • Eczema: This inflammatory reaction of the skin with reddening of the skin, blistering, oozing, dandruff and crusting can often be successfully treated with a single therapy session using leeches.
  • Inflammation: A distinction is made between acute and chronic inflammation. Both can be successfully treated with leeches
    - Acute inflammation: The supply of fresh blood is promoted by the faster draining venous current, which quickly relieves the pressure and heat of the acute inflammation.
    - Chronic inflammation: The increased supply of fresh blood stimulates cell regeneration, the lymph flow and the venous outflow are also stimulated.
  • Poils: Like all purulent processes, boils respond very well to leech treatments. The deep channels of the inflamed hair follicles are cleaned by the action of leech saliva and heal.
  • Joint degeneration: Since the structures of bones and / or tissue have already changed or are “worn” in this disease, treatment with a medical leech cannot promise a cure. However, this improves the mobility of the joint through pain relief and the more thorough care of the supporting tissue.
  • Joint bile: The leech promotes venous drainage and lymph flow and is therefore a good treatment option for this form of disease. However, several treatments should be carried out so that the tissue pockets regenerate and cannot refill.
  • Joint dysplasia: This acquired or congenital malposition in the joints cannot be cured by leech treatment. The animal benefits from pain relief and regeneration of the supporting tissue. If the joint dysplasia is treated surgically, the leech can be used for faster recovery.
  • Hematomas: bruises are predestined for leech treatments. Pressure pain and swelling of a hematoma often subside during the suction process. The blood that has already clotted is drawn out through the leech, and the saliva-inhibiting effect of the saliva means that the rest of the bruise is accelerated and transported away through the lymph channels.

  • Skin changes: The cause of skin changes are often detoxification processes of the body, which are carried out through the skin. The natural drainage through the leech bite accelerates detoxification and the skin heals faster.
  • Laminitis: The inflammation of the horseshoe skin in the horse can be positively influenced both in the acute and in the chronic course by leech therapy. If necessary, therapy must be given over a longer period.
  • Inflammation of the hoof roll (Podotrochlose): The hoof roll of the horse consists of navicular bone, flexor tendon and hoof roll bursa. Podotrochlosis is an inflammatory, degenerative disease in this area. Necrosis occurs on the navicular bone. When treating with leeches, the stage of the disease is not negligible. The earlier treatment is started, the greater the chances of recovery. In most cases, this disease also requires therapy over a longer period of time.
  • Infected insect bites: Insect bites usually heal quickly. However, they can also lead to an infection and swell and cause severe itching. In this case, the leech bite has a decongestant, anti-inflammatory effect and relieves itching.
  • Cruciate ligament injuries: Since leech therapy particularly helps with swelling and inflammation, it is very suitable for all tendon and ligament injuries as well as cruciate ligament tears. Due to the improved mobility and pain relief, care should be taken to avoid overexertion.
  • Leak eczema: There are many different causes for a leak eczema that ultimately leads to bald, inflammatory and ulcerated skin changes. If parasites have been excluded as the cause of the leak eczema, leeches help with this disease very quickly.
  • Lymphatic congestion: Since the saliva of the gel strongly stimulates the lymph flow, lymphatic congestion can be treated very well with leeches.
  • Dermatitis in the fetlock: The symptoms of dermatitis in the fetlock can be reduced by the leech therapy.
  • Muscular atrophy: Muscular atrophy (muscle wasting) is caused, for example, after injuries by not using certain muscles. But it can also be caused by nerve paralysis, hormonal or constant pressure (saddle!). The increased blood flow to the muscle tissue during a leech bite stimulates the formation of new cells.
  • Myogelosis: Myogelosis is the hardening of muscle tissue due to overexertion or incorrect stress. The cell metabolism boosted by leech treatment promotes the regeneration of muscle tissue. The clearly measurable lack of oxygen in the center of a myogelosis is favored by the increased blood flow after the leech bite. Since myogelosis is often caused by inflammation of the muscles, treatment with leeches is a good option.
  • Scars: hardened, old scars can be treated with leeches particularly well. This significantly reduces the scars. This therapy is particularly useful if the scar causes or hurts restricted movement. Often there are scars on a meridian or on acupuncture points, which can hinder the flow of energy. For this reason too, treatment with leeches is advisable.
  • Nerve inflammation: Nerve inflammation heals easily and quickly with hirudotherapy. Ab. Even nerve injuries or the severing of the nerve can heal completely with the help of leeches or the nerves can reunite, which is why they are often used in transplant medicine. However, the causes (e.g. overexertion, pressure from incorrectly fitting equipment such as saddle pressure on the horse or improperly adjusted harness) should be remedied in order to avoid recurrences (relapses).
  • Edema: Edema is a swelling of the tissue due to fluid retention. After the cause has been eliminated, edema can be influenced favorably by leech therapy.
  • Ear eczema: After eliminating any parasite infestation, ear eczema responds well to leech treatments. Itching and swelling go away quickly. But make absolutely sure that the bleeding does not run into your ear!
  • Surgical wounds: surgical wounds heal faster with leech therapy. Due to the increased venous outflow, necrosis is less common. This is already used in the regeneration of transplant wounds.
  • Patellar luxations: The complete or partial dislocation of the kneecap is almost always triggered or accompanied by a weakness of the knee ligaments. This weakness of the ligamentous apparatus can be improved with the use of leeches along with physiotherapeutic measures.
  • Rheumatism: Treatment with leeches relieves symptoms on individual joints. The underlying disease cannot be cured by this, but therapy blocks can often be broken through.
  • Saddle or belt pressure points: If there are saddle or belt pressure points on the horse, the first step is of course to remedy the cause. An unsuitable saddle will always cause pressure points and can lead to permanent damage to the spine and back muscles. It is therefore imperative to ensure that the horse is properly equipped. Once the cause has been remedied, treatment with leeches can be started. The erosions that arise can be eliminated more quickly with the leeches. It must be ensured that the scars of the bite points cause elevations for some time, which can be chafed up again by placing saddles or dishes on them. It is therefore advisable to wait for the bite to heal completely before using the horse again.
  • Spondylosis: The healing of spondylosis (ossification of the spine) or other degenerative diseases of the spine cannot be achieved with leeches. Often, however, the ossification is accelerated, which leads to a certain stiffness and pain relief.
  • Stump healing: After a limb amputation, the wound regenerates much faster through leech treatment and apparently there is no phantom pain after the therapy.
  • Tendinitis and tendovaginitis: tendon and tendon sheath infections, especially in horses, have a very long healing phase and significantly impair the movement. This is remedied by the anti-inflammatory effect of the leech.
  • Venous congestion: The special effect of the Saliva on the venous system makes leech treatment indispensable for the therapy of venous congestion or phlebitis.
  • Wound healing: the increased blood flow to the tissue stimulates the formation of new cells and the wounds heal faster.
  • Tick bites: Inflamed or purulent tick bites respond very well to leech therapy.



  • Anemia: With anemia there is a risk that the organism will not produce new blood quickly enough. Leech treatment is therefore not recommended.
  • Arterial occlusive disease: This is a disruption of arterial blood flow to the limbs. It usually arises from the narrowing or occlusion of the main artery (aorta) or the arteries that supply the limbs. This can impair the uninhibited flow of blood to the treatment area and trigger complications as a result of leech treatment.
  • Anticoagulant medication: Since the saliva of the leech also contains anticoagulant substances, uncontrolled bleeding can occur when these medications are taken at the same time; the effect is strengthened!
  • Blood coagulation disorders: For example, hemophilia (blood disease) can cause very heavy bleeding and endanger the patient.
  • Blood-thinning medication: The bleeding afterwards of the leech bite can be increased by medication such as Marcumar or heparin so that the patient could be in mortal danger.
  • Diabetes mellitus: A well-known side effect of diabetes mellitus are disorders of wound healing due to circulatory disorders.
  • Fever: The organism is weakened by a high fever, therefore one does not treat leeches. Likewise, new blood or lymphatic drainage can be impaired by fever, which can lead to a backflow. This can result in phlegmon (purulent infectious disease of the soft tissues).
  • Histamine allergy: If an allergy to histamine is known, treatment with leeches should not be carried out.
  • Cachexia: This technical term describes an extremely poor nutritional and general condition, which also affects circulatory activity. This condition must be corrected before using the leeches, as the blood loss caused could weaken the body so much that it is no longer able to regenerate itself.
  • Leukemia: Since it cannot be assessed how the weakened organism reacts to leech therapy, this type of therapy should not be used in the event of malignant new blood or blood-forming systems.
  • Stomach ulcer: gastric and duodenal ulcers can break open due to the stimulation of blood circulation.
  • Malignant tumors: Animals with a known tumor disease should not be treated with leeches. Cell growth is stimulated by the saliva, which in turn can promote the growth of malignant tumors.
  • Protection against parasites: Leeches often react defensively and do not bite if the animal's skin or fur has been treated with highly fragrant or insect repellent agents.
  • Medicines containing mercury: They may interfere with blood clotting and are therefore contraindicated.
  • Painkillers: Some painkillers have a blood-thinning effect as a side effect (e.g. aspirin, Rimadyl, Equipalazone). For safety reasons, such pain relievers should be discontinued at least one day before and after the leech treatment so that there is no risk of bleeding.

Side effects
Side effects are not known when used properly and taking the contraindications into account.

  • Bleeding: If uncontrollable bleeding occurs despite prior clarification of the medication or tendency to bleed, a well-fitting pressure bandage must be applied.
  • Crusts: If possible, the crusts at the bite points should not be scraped off. Small scars could appear.
  • Further reactions: Local itching, slight swelling and reddening in the immediate vicinity of the bite marks are absolutely normal side effects. If the part of the body around the bite points swells and hurts, a homeopathic dose of Apis and / or Arnica should be administered. This swelling will go away after about 3 days.



Source: kinesiologie-uw.ch


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