Sunday, October 12, 2008

Therapeutic Benefits for Diabetics


Today, Diabetes is one of the most prevalent chronic diseases in the world. Millions of people have been diagnosed with Diabetes and everyday, thousands more become part of this statistic.

Diabetes: A Quick Overview

Diabetes is a condition caused by the pancreas’s failure to produce enough insulin. The difference between type 1 and type 2 is the degree of insulin depletion. In type 1 diabetes, the onset is usually early in childhood, where there is absolute depletion of insulin. In type 2 diabetes, the onset is usually in adulthood around the age of 45 or older; where insulin production occurs, but an insufficient amount of insulin is produced.

When we eat, sugar turns into glucose and enters our bloodstream and is distributed to our body cells. Glucose is the “food” that gives our cells energy to function and insulin is crucial for breaking down glucose into the form that our cells can use. Without insulin or with too little insulin, glucose will not be absorbed by our cells, and they in turn will have no or little energy.

In the above situation, glucose remains in the blood causing it to thicken, which can create complications in the body. Transporting blood from one
organ to another requires more effort, resulting in the vessel walls thickening and becoming less flexible. The heart also becomes overworked with the effort required to pump blood around the body and of course, thickened blood struggles to pass through capillaries, let alone the smaller blood vessels. This alone compromises the blood supply to distal organs, let alone the fact that viscous blood can predispose a patient to develop blood clots, which can travel to major organs like the brain, heart and lungs causing a stroke, heart attack or lung embolism.

Leech Therapy: An Ancient Science

Leech Therapy, also known as Hirudotherapy, is the treatment using medical leeches to assist various diseases. It is a therapy known since ancient times and remains very much in use today.

Hirudo Medicinalis is a species of leech used for medical applications, which are able to consume up to 15 ml of blood, therefore, therapists can use up to 12 leeches simultaneously or more, depending on the type of disease treated. When leeches bite, they inject their saliva into the wound. Their saliva contains enzymes, different chemicals and substances that bring about diverse therapeutic benefits for the patient.

Therapeutic Benefits for Diabetics

One of the most important substances recognised in leech salivary glands is Hirudin, a substance that suppresses the blood clotting mechanism. If you remember, it was mentioned earlier that Diabetes patients have viscous [thick] blood, which creates a higher risk of developing blood clots. Development and dislodgment of clots into the general circulation poses serious threats to anyone and can cause instant death, so the suppression of blood clotting is essential.

Hirudin also has a blood diluting effect, so apart from preventing blood clots; it also thins the blood, allowing the blood to circulate more easily, relieving pressure on the heart and blood vessels.

All These and More

Aside from Hirudin, there are many other active substances found in the saliva of leeches, which contribute to the improvement and normalization of capillary circulation. There are also other substances which produce a natural analgesic, provide antibacterial properties, lower blood pressure and have an anti-inflammatory effect.

In Diabetes and other diseases, the microcirculation restoration effect of Hirudotherapy is essential in preventing amputation of fingers and toes. As we know, the care of the fingers and toes are crucial and since a diabetic’s blood circulation can be sluggish, where blood is sometimes unable to fully penetrate capillaries, the body cannot heal the smallest of wounds, or worse, necrosis [tissue death] can result and sometimes amputation of a finger, toe or limb is necessary to stop the spread of this condition to other parts of the body and Leech Therapy is known to improve circulation in distal parts of the body (i.e. extremities).

Today, hospitals worldwide use leeches to assist a number of areas, including restoration of circulation in reattaching parts of the body, such as fingers, toes, ears or hands which have been accidentally amputated and good blood supply and nerve connection is essential for recovery. These reattachment procedures are often complemented with leech therapy so that circulation is restored more easily and safely.

Little Research

Scientific research is ongoing regarding the use of leeches in assisting countless diseases in the medical arena. Leeches are without doubt, miraculous creatures; their obvious advantage is the fact they have survived for several centuries, therefore allowing us to acknowledge that some mysteries of nature, for the time being, may remain unmeasured.

Leeches have and will always be thought of as the “wonder doctors” of science.

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