Can Leech Therapy Help with Hair Loss?

leech-therapy-alopeciaYou know those black, slimy, dreadful-looking things?  Yeah, we’re talking about leeches.  In the past, people often used them to treat a whole range of conditions.  The belief was that many diseases were caused by “bad blood” and therefore, if a person were to be bled using leeches or some other method of blood-letting, the patient would be cured of the disease.

“Bleeding” by using leeches was used out of desperation because no one knew the origins of diseases and doing something was better than doing nothing.  Well, times have changed, but if there is little that can be done about a certain condition, people will still try a whole range of different methods in hopes of being successful.

Now let us discuss leech therapy for hair loss.  Is it another scam or are there some benefits to be had by sticking those ugly-looking things onto your head?

What is leech therapy?

In ancient times when leeches had to be gathered in the swamps, a naked person was sent into leech infested water and then the leeches were gathered from his/her body.  Today leeches are cultivated under sterile conditions and are used only once in order to avoid transferring viruses from person to person.
How does leech therapy actually work?  The effect of leech therapy is not connected with the actual bleeding.  Rather, it is connected with the substances located in the saliva of the leech.  The saliva contains a number of substances that provide anti-inflammatory, anesthetizing (pain-killing) and vasodilating (widening of the blood vessels)effects.  This is the reason why leech therapy is successfully used to treat varicose veins, thrombo-phlebitis, muscle cramps, osteoarthritis, and other conditions.

Moreover, leech therapy is used to increase the chances of successful skin flaps (full thickness skin graft) transplantation, reattachment of fingers, and during reconstructive surgery of the nose, ears, lips, and eyelids. One of the reasons why a reattached finger or a skin graft can be rejected is due to venous congestion and this is where the leech therapy comes in.  The leech saliva dissolves the blood clots and restores the blood flow in the damaged tissues.  Moreover, the anti-inflammatory effect decreases the edema which can also restrict blood flow by pushing on the tissues.

Will leach therapy work in treating hair loss?

It is common knowledge today that the number one cause of hair loss is DHT – dihydrotestosterone. This is a metabolite of testosterone which causes male/female pattern baldness.  A little known fact is that DHT actually increases blood viscosity and promotes blood coagulation.  As a result the blood flow in the capillaries that supply the hair follicles with blood may be decreased.

It is quite understandable how  leech therapy might be of use in treating male pattern baldness.  The saliva of the leeches promotes better blood flow by decreasing the viscosity of the blood, thus increasing the oxygen and nutrient supply to the hair follicles.  Of course this procedure should only be used in special medical centers where special leeches are bred specifically for this purpose.  As well, a person cannot go through this procedure too frequently because there could be a tendency to take too much blood.  It is also extremely important that these leeches are not reused and why having this procedure in some place other than a medical facility is a very bad idea.   Hepatitis B and C, HIV and other viruses can easily be transferred from one person to another through leeches.

In conclusion
Using leeches alone will not be enough to restore your hair.  However, it is a feasible alternative or can be used in combination with another hair loss treatment.  It might even provide general health benefits which include reduced blood coagulation (which decreases the likelihood of a heart attack) and stimulate production of red blood cells.  If overused, iron-deficiency anemia could result.

Leech therapy is often used in conjunction with reflexotherapy to increase the local blood flow which will promote hair growth.  Other methods such as  Finasteride and/or Minoxidil should also be considered.