Skin diseases


The skin is the body’s first line of defence against infection. There are three layers to the skin – the epidermis, dermis and hypodermis.  Together these layers comprise skin cells, capillaries, sweat glands, and hair follicles.

Skin disease typically occur in the two uppermost layers, the epidermis and the dermis.  By improving blood flow to these two upper layers of skin, leeches help to cure many common skin diseases.

Some skin diseases (e.g. psoriasis) are chronic, but are subject to periodic remissions.  Treatment with leeches has been shown to lengthen the periods of remission in many patients, and to delay the onset of disease ‘flare-ups’.

Baldness & Hair loss


Leech therapy increases blood circulation. Therefore, when leeches are applied to thinning or bald areas of the scalp, the increase in blood circulation helps to deliver and to concentrate the nutrients that assist in making the hair follicles strong. The therapy can assist in the promotion of hair growth. As with all treatments, the results will vary from individual to individual.

People suffering alopecia caused by fungal infections or dandruff may also benefit from the antimicrobial properties inherent in leech saliva.  This helps to prevent local infection, and also helps combat any established infection.



Boils are infections deep in the skin. A boil begins as a painful red area and gradually becomes tender and firm. Swelling occurs and an ‘eye’ or central peak forms, which contains pus. Pus is a thick, opaque, usually yellowish white fluid matter formed in association with inflammation caused by the invasion of the body by infective microorganisms (e.g. bacteria). Pus is composed of degenerating leukocytes (white blood cells), tissue debris, and living or dead microorganisms.

Typically, a single leech is placed over the eye of the boil, to feed directly on the pus. Additional leeches are attached to the area surrounding the boil, to improve circulation to the affected site. The combined effect of the leeches is to very quickly relieve congestion, and reduce the pressure which is the cause of the swelling, tenderness and pain.



One of the most important substances released from the leech salivary glands is hirudin, a suppressor of blood clotting. Diabetic patients have sugar-laden and therefore viscous (i.e. thick) blood, and this leads to an increased risk of blood clots.

Hirudin helps to prevent blood clots and also improves the blood circulation. Improved circulation results in less pressure on the heart and blood vessels. Better circulation of blood assists with all healing processes, which can be severely impaired in diabetic patients.

Ear & Hearing Problems


Leech therapy can help cure or significantly alleviate the three most common ear and hearing problems – sudden hearing loss, tinnitus and otitis media (middle ear infection).  People suffering from other ailments involving the ear can also benefit from leech therapy.

When attached, leeches secrete an analgesic, which numbs pain in the human host.  They also secrete beneficial enzymes and an anticoagulant which inhibits the formation of blood clots, and also help dissolve existing blood clots. Blood vessels are dilated by other leech-secreted enzymes, improving the circulation generally. Secreted antimicrobial substances kill bacteria and other pathogens that cause ear problems.


(e.g. ankle, hip, knee, shoulder, hand, etc)


Sufferers from osteoarthritis (OA) usually complain of pain, stiffness and swelling of the joint. This results in immobility and difficulty with activities of daily living (ADLs).

People who have undergone leech therapy have reported a significant reduction in all three major symptoms of osteoarthritis. This improvement has been demonstrated in several recent randomised controlled trials (RCTs), published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. RCTs are considered the ‘gold standard’ of medical effectiveness.

As shown in the RCTs carried out to date, a marked reduction in OA-associated joint pain and stiffness is often noticed on the day following leech therapy. The reduction in pain and its associated symptoms results in a long-term increase in mobility, wellbeing and quality of life.

Leech therapy for OA is usually repeated every 6–8 months. It is a safe and (in most patients) a very effective way to treat the symptoms of arthritis.



Shingles (i.e. reactivated infection with varicella-zoster virus) is a painful skin disease in adults, often occurring when the immune system is compromised through illness or stress.  The symptoms are inflammation, pain, and the eruption of small, fluid-filled blisters.  The pain is often severe, and can last weeks or months.

Leech treatment of shingles works by reducing the severity and duration of pain, and minimising post-infection complications such as neuralgia (i.e. chronic, severe nerve-related pain).

Leech saliva contains substances with powerful analgesic (i.e. pain-killing) effects.  In some patients, the pain relief from a single leech treatment session will last for up to 6 months, or longer.

Sport injuries


Leech therapy is extremely beneficial in accelerating the healing of sport injuries.  The benefits derive from the various enzymes and other bioactive substances that are found in the leech’s saliva, and that are now known to reduce pain and inflammation, and to reduce local tissue swelling.

The bioactive agents in leech saliva dilate blood vessels and work synergistically to improve and promote circulation to the injured body part, thereby supporting and speeding up the body’s natural healing activities.  Leeches applied to an injured area reduce local inflammation, swelling and pain, resulting in earlier recovery of mobility and a quicker return to normal function.

The number of leech therapy sessions required in acute sports injuries is dependent on the severity of the injury, and also the individual’s response to the therapy.

Vascular disease


Leech saliva has over 100 bioactive substances that are beneficial to healing and general wellbeing.  One such component is hirudin, which acts as an anticoagulant and which, coupled with calin, powerfully inhibits blood coagulation.  Anticoagulants dissolve fibrin clots and inhibit the formation of thrombus.

Leech saliva contains a Factor Xa inhibitor, and also hyaluronidase. These two agents enhance the viscosity of the interstitial fluid.

The vasodilator acetylcholine, along with histamine-like substances and also carboxypeptidase A inhibitors, increase blood flow by dilating constricted vessels.

These are just some of the health-promoting components of leech saliva. The substances listed above work synergistically (possibly in conjunction with other bioactive substances that have not yet been identified) to decrease the viscosity of the blood, making its consistency thinner and promoting a more efficient blood circulation.

Blood that has a thick consistency is prone to clot formation and can result in increased blood pressure. Blood clots or thrombi can travel to different parts of the body and can cause of strokes (i.e. cerebrovascular accidents, or CVAs) and heart attacks (i.e. myocardial infarctions, or ‘coronaries’).



During feeding, a number of enzymes present in the leech saliva are injected into the human host. These enzymes help boost the host’s immune system. In addition, they improve the circulation of blood in the tissues, stimulate cells to work more efficiently, and enhance overall wellbeing.

There are over 100 bioactive substances in the leech saliva that work synergistically to improve general health. They include:

• Anti-elastase, which slows down the ageing process of the skin and inhibits the enzyme that breaks down elastin.

• Hyaluronic acid, which has a potent anti-wrinkle effect.

• Steroids, which help the skin look young.

• Lipids and phosphatidic acids, that significantly enhance the insulating and protecting layer of the skin

• Elastin and collagenase, which reduce tissue tension

In addition to the above, leeches produce serotonin and endorphin (which calm the recipient), eglin (an anti-inflammatory agent), and a histamine-like substance (that increases blood circulation).