Medicinal leech use dates back over 3000 years. In Egypt, India, Ancient Greece and Ancient Persia the Hirudo Medicinalis, what the medicinal leech is called, was used extensively for healing and therapeutic treatments. Hippocrates writes about them in his works. These little creatures have a very long history.
There are over 650 species of leeches known today, but only 15 of them are blood sucking. These are the ones we are interested in. They are anywhere from one to 10 inches long, have 32 brains, 3 jaws and millions of mini teeth. Their central nervous system is similar to the human one. In the 19th century the European countries imported 100 million leeches every year for medicinal purpose. It was not till the middle of last century that leeches kind of disappeared for about 30 years from the medical field. Since the 80's they have become very popular in medicine again and are being widely used in hospitals all over the world for the following treatments:
-muscle pain and cramps
Myself, I have been using leeches on my tennis elbow, thumb capsule inflammation, broken toe, just to name a few. In all cases, the relief of pain and the healing experienced have been very noticeable and long lasting.
I have made the same observations while treating various horse injuries and pathologies. Over the last 15 years, I have successfully used leeches on bowed tendons, muscle cramps, suspensory injuries, chronic joint pain, arthritis, ring and side bone and laminitis. Horses do very well with leech treatment and enjoy the whole experience. In Africa, biologist have observed that buffalos and cattle seek out ponds with high leech populations, stand in the water for 30 to 45 minutes, get a leech treatment and then leave the pond when the leeches are full and have fallen off.
Before treating a horse, it is advised to shave the area down to the bare skin. Although leeches can bite through the skin of a hippo and also through hair, they prefer clean skins. Wash the area with clean water, no soap. Leeches detest soap and any artificial smell.
Clean your own hands with water only, take a little mini cup, fetch a leech from your container and hold it with the container to the horses skin.
Leeches can bite on both ends, so just hold that cup to the area to let them bite. If they are not in the mood, then a little prick of the horses skin with the needle will draw a drop of blood and will help stimulate their appetite.
Once they are attached, they often use their other end to hold themselves in place, but not always. Stay with your horse, because if the horse would stomp the leg because of flies, for example, the leech could fall off and then will loose interest. They are very sensitive creatures, one should always have love and respect for them and be kind.
This one is holding on with the other end, but will only bite with one end at a time.
Typically a leech will stay attached from 30 to 45 minutes. During this time, they can grow to 5 times their original size. Then they just fall off and do not feel like feeding again for 6 months or a year.
This one just hangs loose from the biting end.
The saliva of a leech contains 13 effective components, one of them being the protein Hirudin, a strong thrombin inhibitor. Hirudin has anti coagulant and anti inflammatory characteristics. The effectiveness and the healing power comes through these ingredients and the subsequent bleeding. The longer the bleeding lasts, the better the effects of healing. 40 ml or so would be nice. The ongoing bleeding stimulates local circulation and carries damaging toxins and waste products from the affected area.
When treating acute laminitis, place four leeches low on the affected leg for best results.
What do these leeches have in common with hoof boots or EasyCare products?
"The new Easyboot Cloud is a therapeutic hoof boot system to give comfort and support to horses with thin soles, abscesses, founder, laminitic stages, stresses of shipping, recovery after workouts or stalling on hard surfaces. The Easyboot Cloud also provides instant and ongoing relief for horses suffering from chronic lameness and general lower limb or hoof problems by aiding movement and reducing recovery time after injury or surgery."
After a treatment with the leeches for any of these pathologies mentioned above, the Easyboot Cloud is almost a must to give the horse ongoing relief and support. Both the Cloud and the Leech can work very well together for the welfare of our horses.
To learn more about these amazing little creatures, you can visit this website.
From the Bootmeister