Sunday, October 12, 2008

Migraine Headaches and Leeches

Leeches are making a comeback, it seems.

Medicinal leeches are used to improve blood circulation, get rid of poisons in the blood, rejuvenate the respiratory and the excretory system and help with migraines.

They are used widely in Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries. In India, just the last week Unani medicine experts finalized the standard operating procedures (SOP) that specifies rules that will have to be followed by all leech therapists in India.

And, in case you are wondering, the Food and Drug Administration of the United States classifies leeches as medical devices.

"Surgeons who do plastic and reconstructive surgery find leeches especially valuable when regrafting amputated appendages, such as fingers or toes. Severed blood vessels in such cases often are so damaged that they lack the ability to clear the area of blood. In these cases, it is difficult for the surgeon to make a route for blood to leave the affected part and return to circulation."

Leeches apply just enough amount of suction to get the blood flowing.

However, there is another aspect to using leeches that could possibly be of a benefit to migraine patients.

The parasite's saliva contains a powerful anti-clotting agent hirudin. At the same time, leeches emit a natural anesthetic that minimizes pain.

Anti-clotting medication has shown some promise as a migraine preventive. We've talked about it in the recent article Clopidogrel (Plavix) - Migraine Cure or a Death Trap?

The conclusion here is - it doesn't seem to be detrimental to one's health. Whether it really helps with migraines, the question for now remains open.


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