Sunday, October 12, 2008

Leeches For Migraines, Anyone?

When Demi Moore recently revealed that she undergoes leech treatments for her overall health “in this woman’s apartment”, it raised more than a few late-snacks from the bottom of people’s stomachs. Just how often are medicinal leeches used nowadays? And are they used for migraine treatment?

They’re Used For Migraines

Instead of having Big Pharma leech all of the money from your savings account, you can get real leeches to suck your blood. Does it hurt? Oh, yeah — patients say the first bite is incredibly sharp, but them subsides as their slimy doctors feed.

Practitioners are using medicinal leeches for a variety of ailments, including migraines, rhuematoid arthritis, gout, skin ulcers, wound cleaning and vasulitits. You usually need a few treatments in order to find any relief with the leeches.

Quite frankly, I haven’t been able to find any statistics on just how many migraineurs are turning to leeches for help or how effective they are. I have only found one reference that a clinical trial was performed, but have not found the results.

Not News

Using leeches for migraines isn’t a revolutionary new idea. Hippocrates, as well as writing oaths, recommended leeches for migraine treatment around 400 BC. It is thought he learned about medicinal leeches from Babylonian healers. Before Hippocrates, one of the only migraine treatments available was to get a hole drilled into your head (called trepaning).

Before You Get Stuck

You can’t just plop any old leech on your head and expect relief. There are only certain strains of leeches that are considered medicinal leeches. Although Demi Moore claims she goes to a private home to get her leech treatment, you usually have to go to a doctor.

Demand for medicinal leeches is rising as demand for alternative therapies rises. And you really can’t get more natural than a blood-sucking leech. The FDA even recognizes that they can have positive qualities.

If you have an infected wound or are threatened with gangrene from diabetes, then medicinal leeches and maggots can clean your wound better than a room full of doctors with various diplomas. But the jury is still out for the use of leeches for migraines.

Personally, I’d rather just have the migraine.