Sunday, October 12, 2008

Leech Therapy: Migraines

Millions of people suffer from Migraines each year, in fact, eleven out of a hundred are said to have suffered or are suffering from Migraine headaches. Migraines are also said to be one of the leading causes of unproductivity in workplaces. Indeed, migraines can easily become the bane of a person’s existence, especially since the pain is usually so intense that one can hardly do anything else but complain and hope the pain goes away as soon as possible. The exact causes of migraine headaches are still unclear, although a number of years ago, it was thought to be a change in the state of the blood vessels supplying the brain. Now, however, the belief about migraine is due to the disturbance stems from the brain itself rather than in the vessels supplying it. One thing that’s sure is that the pain is somewhat relieved when circulation to the particular painful area is improved and the same principle holds true with migraines and this is where leeches come in handy.

Leeches are wonderful creatures, despite their reputation of being slightly – okay, overly disgusting to many people, they still prove to be helpful creatures! These remarkable invertebrates have found a way to keep us happy and at the same time keep themselves happy. It’s a relationship that’s mutually beneficial, so you really have to wonder why most people abhor them so much.

There is a theory that suggests migraines are caused by tiny blood clots that are formed in the heart, which then travel to the brain and these blood clots disrupt the flow of blood to the brain and thus cause the typical symptoms of migraine like the one-sided head-ache, photophobia, and nausea. As you may already know, there is a substance found in leeches called Hirudin. This substance is an anticoagulant, causing blood to become more diluted, thus allowing it to flow easier and faster. Hirudin can dissolve those little clots that have formed by converting fibrinogen to fibrin.

It’s also known that leeches can increase the circulation in the body, even on the head, because its sucks just enough blood to get the blood stream flowing. Leeches can also cause vasodilation, meaning the vessels are widened, thus lowering the pressure on the walls of these vessels, improving blood flow.

Good blood circulation is vital! In a painful area, it’s absolutely necessary, especially in places like the brain and using leeches instead of medications for migraines is healthier. For one thing, medications can have serious side effects unlike leeches which, if handled properly, are relatively safe and have no prolonged adverse effects. Drugs, especially strong pain relievers like narcotics, can be addictive, so they’re not advisable if possible. Frequent use of certain drugs may also cause dependence and an increase in tolerance, meaning the next time you’re in pain, you may need a higher dose and as you may be aware, higher dosages of drugs can be toxic for your body.

Another substance in leech saliva that is known to help relive migraines is a natural anesthetic that is released after attaching itself and can greatly relieve discomfort. If you’d rather have a leech on your head rather than a splitting headache, then perhaps leech therapy is the thing for you.


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