Modern Approach in hirudotherapy

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Definition of the therapy

Leech therapy can be traced back several thousand years to traditional Ayurvedic texts, is also known to have been used by the pharaohs of Egypt, and was very popular in Europe in the 19th Century (especially in England, France and Russia). However, since these times, many things have changed.

In the 20th Century three main things happened, which significantly influenced the use of leech therapy.

Firstly Western medicine became the major treatment for human medical care, with chemical drugs producing rapid relief in severe cases, and has been supported with scientific proof as well as evidence based studies. Since this has been introduced and accepted as the traditional approach, this factor has pushed all alternative and complementary approaches (including leech therapy) into the background.

Secondly it was discovered that a leech’s saliva consists of more than a 100 biologically active ingredients which produce anti-inflammatory, anti-stress, thrombolytic, anti-bacterial and immune stimulating effects in a patient’s body. Therefore leech therapy and Hirudopractice has had a great chance to survive in the modern world, changing its status from ‘traditional’ or ‘ancient’ medicine to Complementary medicine. Now it could be treated only as a supporting method built into the main scheme of different therapies.

  1. The term “Leech therapy” refers to a live medical leech application performed by medically trained staff only, where a leech is used in the same way as a biological ‘single use’ needle. The term “Hirudopractice” means the use of leech products (capsules, suppositories, pills, and creams) as well as new technologies and innovations combined in a very particular way with applications of a live leech or other complementary medicine methods for self-healing and health care purposes. It could be performed by complementary medicine specialists, as well as medically trained practitioners. To keep it simple we will refer to “hirudotherapy” to describe both these methods.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There is a great difference between Doctor of Medicine-neurologist professionally using leeches for patients after Cerebral Strokes, Cerebral Haemorrhage, MS, Cerebral Palsy with Paracephaletic cyst in the brain, epileptic seizures or trigeminal neuralgia and Complementary Medicine specialist, who is applying leeches for health care purpose. Also there is a huge difference between doctor-gynaecologist using leeches for medical infertility treatment and home based hirudopractitioner applying leeches for self-healing only.

BAH clearly defers these two approaches and offers separate levels for a training system.

Thirdly, because not every health issue can be fixed with chemical drugs (nor with leech therapy) and at the very beginning of the 20th century leech therapy was applied still in the old fashioned way (as in the 19th century or previously), so live leeches were often applied next to chemical drugs without a proper scheme of understanding of the combining factors and risks, resulting in a confusing situation. This happened because in combination the expected results did not occur. It was not clear why sometimes leech therapy appeared to be a not so powerful method anymore, or why a set dose of a chemical drug appeared stronger or weaker next to a live leech application. Also there were no universal methods publicly introduced or formulated of how it would work for the majority of patients, as everyone could react in slightly different way depending on their condition or an individual reaction to the live leech bite.

In the 21st Century the situation has changed again.

Many prominent Western medical doctors and scientists have started using Complementary/Alternative methods (and leech therapy in particular) making many great discoveries by combining both chemical drugs with live leech and their products.

BAH is aware of good empirical practice for different uses of life leech. They could be provided using ancient technique of local applications (above the painful area) or systemic approach (using knowledge about biologically active points and energy channels-meridians).

BAH is constantly working with the most prominent scientists in that area from the USA, Russia, Poland, Lithuania, Israel, Germany and other countries within the International Co-operation Community of Hirudopractitioners –ICCHP- in order to establish National and European Union Leech Registers, mutual Standards and Education system for Modern Leech therapy and Hirudopractice. For those Western medicine doctors who prefer to stay removed from this comprehensive approach, the newly developed Integrative Method of Medicine (which is very well represented and introduced in the “WHO Traditional Medicine Strategy 2014-2023” document) should be the best encouragement to get back on track and start using more natural (for human) methods along with their progressive colleagues.

This strategy document is available here

It is important to make very clear from the very beginning that Leech therapy and Hirudopractice are not alternatives, but Complementary old and well known medicine, which works well together with Western medicine and is extremely helpful for patients who need the above mentioned positive effects without undesirable side effects (which usually accompany regular use of chemical drugs). Applying Leech therapy and Hirudopractice, in a modern and correct NHS friendly way (according to conditions presented more specifically below), increases the level of natural hormones (including serotonin and endorphins) and the patient will feel happy, relaxed and comfortable during and after the treatment. Leeches applied correctly will treat diseases caused by insufficient micro-circulation, which will in turn help patients who suffer from blood defects, joint disorders, neuroses, boils, haemorrhoids, varicose veins and many other ailments (e.g. hypertension, bronchitis, asthma, heart attack, stroke, depression, infertility, memory disorders, diabetes, peptic and duodenal ulcers, arthritis, obesity, chronic fatigue syndrome etc.) These total more than 400 diseases please refer to the BAH website for more indications and contraindications:

Uses of Hirudotherapy.pdf

The application of a live leech will not build your muscles or help you get rid of bad habits but, if applied correctly using a modern professional evidence-based and scientifically proven approach, it will help GPs in their everyday duty, minimising the quantity of home visits and specialists’ consultations. Also the number of hospital beds needed could be reduced because it will improve patients’ health significantly, them being at home and receiving leech therapy there.

We advocate the use of “Integrative Quadracare: Focus on the Best World Experience Approach in Modern Leech Therapy and Hirudopractice” as the most professional way in Hirudotherapy (a short version would be QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy or just (QC)). We view this as secure and safe for our patients, sufficient and based on the successful evidence of good healthy practice, scientifically approved, originated from eminent doctors and scientists from 12 countries (members of International Co-operation Community of Hirudopractitioners –ICCHP–, please see the testimonials at, also suitable for a variety of treatments including for sports-related conditions, comprehensive in its public presentation and NHS prescription friendly.

For specialist cases we have access to supervision from the aforementioned developers and experts in this field, as they perfectly well represent the process for scientifically substantiating Leech therapy and Hirudopractice to improve modern healthcare by using QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC).

QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC) has an integral approach to medicine and combines four areas of healing to improve micro-circulation in the human body: 

  1. Lifestyle coaching and solutions
  2. Modern Leech therapy and new technologies in Hirudopractice
  3. Health enhancement supplements & apparel
  4. Modern physiotherapy and osteopathy

It is important to note that each of these areas has been used separately by practitioners working alongside Western medicine for many years, specifically in coaching, osteopathy, physiotherapy and food supplements. Only Leech therapy was used for many centuries as the most ancient approach on its own. Nevertheless, each of these can assist in the treatment of a wide range of illnesses offering significant long term relief from pain.

To explain how the QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC) works, here is a brief description of each area:

  1. Lifestyle coaching and solutions – are needed to change long term bad habits and develop life-long skills to improve patient health.
  2. Modern Leech therapy and new technologies in Hirudopractice – developed by prominent scientists, professors, doctors and practitioners are important when live leeches and leech product will be prescribed.
  3. Health enhancement supplements & apparel – the food supplement products and other effective natural ingredients produced, supervised by medical advisers and doctors of Medicine ensure much better blood formula and are important as a part of wellbeing.
  4. Modern physiotherapy and osteopathy – applied using specially designed equipment, a unique exercise programme and a particular style of massage, is extremely useful, because provides better condition of muscular system, therefore micro-circulation will be improved dramatically.

Let’s start with the fact that systematic thought (area 1) helps to create healthy habits and can establish a healthier lifestyle. To this we add a rational healthy diet with the help of modern technologies in Leech therapy and Hirudopractice (area 2), a complex of modern physiotherapy and osteopathy (area 4), with a useful set of nutritional supplements and functional accessories (area 3), resulting in a clearly optimised mode of life. Using these methods you will see quite dramatic changes, orientated to restore human micro-circulation and resulting in good health and quality of life.

Summarising, QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC) represents the very latest developments in modern technologies and scientific discoveries within complementary and holistic medicine. It incorporates a modern complex of complementary medicine diagnosis, a homeopathic approach, food supplements, a particular set of workouts for capillary system action, and the Chinese ‘meridian’ method using biologically active points for leech applications. This unique package effectively helps improve the micro-circulation in the human body, reducing post-treatment reactions (and other issues) and creating particular conditions in our body to re-balance, re-build and even enhance most of its functions. If a patient is still considered to have to be using some chemical drugs, they would work quicker and better, providing more positive results and less damage for general human health (possibly with a lower dosage). Nevertheless recovery of health by using live medicinal leech on its own differs from the traditional way of treatment with drugs, as the leech is an animal having a natural biological structure.

Live leech application as an important part of QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC): Medicines dull symptoms of illness, whereas remedy/health recovery using leech therapy eliminates the cause of the illness itself. The leech, by biting the skin, injects into the body of the patient over 100 bioactive substances; however it selectively directs just those substances which are necessary to uniquely cure the person’s ailments. The leech bite irritates receptors in the skin, triggering activity of the internal organs. At the point of the leech bite a very light painful sensation may occur which passes in some minutes. Visible signs at the point of the leech bite are a small trace on the skin for a short time.

The leech’s saliva contains anti-inflammatory/anaesthetic/antiseptic substances and prevents blood from clotting, but all of these substances can also activate chronic illnesses or inflammatory processes. After the second or third session of treatment the state of the patient’s health very frequently worsens, however this is a normal part of the natural process, does not represent any health danger and hence should not be a worry. Healers call this process ‘a response reaction of the organism’ to the action of secretions of the leeches’ salivary glands. The state of health usually improves only after the fourth or fifth session of treatment. By the leeches ‘blood letting’ from a human body, microbes, toxins, salts and ballast substances are eliminated, thus the organism is cleared in natural way. In addition it promotes the improvement of the person’s blood circulation, and (most importantly) leads to the normalisation and improvement of capillary circulation, which cannot be achieved using chemical reactions.

When proper blood circulation is restored, connections are re-established between the separate organs and the correct activation of local and general immune reactions can proceed. Because of the difference in osmotic pressure due to the leech secretions, organism fluids start to move from the internal organs to the surface of the skin, thus the property of the leech bite wound to continue bleeding encourages the movement of even previously immobile fluids. This also continues after the leech has detached.

When the leech drops off the skin, the wound continues to bleed plentifully and patients should not be afraid of this part of the natural process. Conversely only slight and/or short–term bleeding indicates impaired blood circulation (to restore this circulation leeches can be applied at exactly the same place). Bleeding lasts for some hours (about 12-24) and the patient loses approximately 20-30 ml of blood and lymph mixture. It is very important to understand that this is not a pure blood loss, but blood and lymph mixture which is a healthy process, not dangerous to the patient.

The course of treatment, the number of leeches used, and their application is determined by a qualified (QC) specialist or Leech therapy consultant & hirudo practitioner. Such a person should have a certificate of completion of a course (and/or membership approval) with the British Association of Hirudotherapy [BAH] which has covered practical and theoretical hirudotherapy knowledge.

The leech has a local and a general influence on a person’s organism:
Local influence is accompanied by bleeding at the point of  the bite, itchiness and reddening of the skin, and possible inflammation of the lymph nodes. Application and lubrication with leech products (such as ‘Hiruda’ ointment) provides rapid relief of itchiness. If the itch persists lubrication with the ointment should be applied 2-3 times per day. The general reaction is accompanied by improvement or deterioration in mood and the general state of health. The person usually becomes calmer, sleeps better, and adequately reacts to life’s problems. In some cases after a procedure trembling, drowsiness, weakness, and an increase in body temperature can occur.

IMPORTANT NOTE there is a small potential risk in the transmission of human specific Aeromonas bacteria found in the leech’s gut. To minimise this risk we recommend (and ourselves use) a procedure of natural staging of the leeches’ application, allowing time for the leeches to be fully saturated and then self-detach. This, not forcing premature withdrawal, is because of the “antiseptic effect” which happens at the very last moment before leech detaches itself. Naturally the antiseptic component is sprayed into the human’s blood system with leech saliva. In rare cases of an excessive reaction from the Aeromonas bacteria (manifested by extreme redness, itching and swelling), one should be immediately be prescribed a course of antibiotics.

Leeches usually stay attached at a truly congested site for between 15 and 90 minutes, depending on the health problems of a patient. Individual leeches can only be used once (as they are “single use only biological needles”). The used leech is then disposed of in a container with special disinfectant solution and subsequently destroyed by cremation, undertaken by the specially approved the UK Medical Waste Company (as a BAH contractor). The leech is never used twice, in accordance with epidemiological hygienic sanitary requirements.
Once the leech has detached, the bite wound should be covered with a sterile bandage and an absorbent dressing pack. When the pack is impregnated with blood, another may be applied or replaced by a new dry one. The sterile dressing could remain on for 24 hours, or less if bleeding ceases, after which a sterile plaster should be applied to the wound for one more day. Following the procedure it is not advised for the patient to take a bath, wash the application area or go to the swimming pool for two days. During this remedy using medicinal leeches the effect of some medicines is increased, thus it is important to inform the leech therapy consultant & hirudo practitioner of any medical conditions and medication in use. During the leech treatment alcohol abuse, drug use, taking herbaceous or biologically active preparations is not recommended. If the patient does not feel any health improvement following the completed course of treatment, it is an indication that too few leeches were used; in which case the treatment should be repeated within 1-3 months with a larger amount of leeches (possibly also including leech products).

IMPORTANT NOTE: In an effort to prevent infectious disease, do not experiment or try to use any other species of leech not offered by representatives of the British Association of Hirudotherapy [BAH], or indeed under any doubtful circumstances. A cheap price does not guarantee the quality of leeches, and especially does not guarantee adequate professional execution of the procedure. Therefore we are extremely concerned about leech quality and always confirm with our suppliers two main conditions:

  • When the leech was born and what was given as food, especially for the very last feeding? Also for how long and at what temperature the leech was on a forced starvation?
  • Whether they could provide identical weight/size leeches?

Leech allergies arise very rarely. In the case of a patient’s concern of their susceptibility to allergy, a biological test can be performed prior to any treatment. This test consists of a single leech application at the lower back area. If the person is allergic to the substances contained in the leech saliva, it will appear obvious within 2-3 minutes (at which time the leech would be detached immediately). A later allergic reaction, which could appear after about 12 hours, usually passes by itself and does not cause serious health problems. Any unclear questions about health changes should be addressed directly to the leech therapy consultant & hirudo practitioner, as only the healer possessing specialist knowledge of (QC) can adequately assess patient’s condition and advise how patient should proceed according to the condition.

Leeches should be applied only by the leech therapy consultant & hirudo practitioner nursing staff. Before applying leeches a leech therapy consultant & hirudo practitioner should be able to evaluate three main conditions:

  1. the condition of the leech: leech therapy consultant & hirudo practitioner should be aware of medical leech type – medicinalis, verbana, officinalis or other -, the leech birth date and last breeding date
  2. The content of the leech: for how long was leech forcibly on starvation and what temperature regime was applied
  3. The condition of the patient: diagnosis and current condition, also noting if there are any contra-indications for leech therapy.

Also when leech therapy consultant & hirudo practitioner is qualified as a “QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC) specialist” they are trained to the highest level of professionalism. They should be able to provide for the patient: coaching, correct breathing techniques, a set of modern physiotherapy exercises, and (even more important) supervision and advice from BAH. Thus, being able to pass to the patient a specific combination of leech products and other food supplements, necessary to ensure the patient’s health improvement and the best preparation or post treatment care for live leech applications. This is what we mean by “The Integrative Quadracare: Focus on the Best World Experience Approach in Modern Leech therapy and Hirudopractice” or “QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC)”, as a modern method, professional, safe and secure for our patients, sufficient and based on the evidence of good health practice and scientifically approved, comprehensive in its public presentation and being NHS prescriptions friendly.

We do not suggest applying directly on painful areas, nor do we suggest using more leeches during one session than absolutely necessary. We prefer our patients to know the truth before they agree to the treatment. There are proven scientific facts and discoveries introduced to BAH by ICCHP international experts, such as Prof. Albert Krashenyuk, Dr. Oleg Kamenev, Biologist Magdalene Westerndorff and others (who have investigated the neurological wave and sound effects of leeches, and also the use of leech capsules, creams and suppositories); following on from the discoveries of the British scientist Dr John B Haycraft, made around 1884. There are a lot of good healthy practice examples in Modern Leech therapy and Hirudopractice, but there still too few discoveries to prove most of the positive effects of using leeches and their products in the modern times. That’s why it’s so important to get supervision and the second opinion from medical practitioners, advisors, and other sources (conferences, knowledge sharing seminars, CPD training, etc.). BAH is able to ensure and provide the most benefits for clients and trainees.

There are no negative side effects to leech therapy so long as we use QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC): a sufficient and comprehensive scheme for appropriate leech products, necessary food supplements and other above mentioned practices. In summary “as few high quality leeches as possible equals a more positive effect for the patient!”



  1. The British Association of Hirudotherapy [BAH] works under “umbrella” of International good practice, experience, empirical evidence, ethical conduct, and the latest scientific discoveries and innovations in Leech therapy and Hirudopractice, focusing on what is useful for the British public and the NHS. Though not too much scientific research and practical experience in this field happens in the UK currently, however it is important to note that BAH is involved in the UK expert contribution, e.g. Dr. Ashley Croft, known by his bulletins within the group of international colleagues, is a BAH honorary member.
  2. There are still not enough scientific discoveries to be able to explain all positive effects on the human body and its systems using leeches. Most old-fashioned leech therapy practitioners just know that it works well, but they cannot explain why. BAH uses the most prominent leech therapy practitioners’ experience globally and not following only one school or method. Therefore BAH is free to choose any supervisor or advice suitable for our clients and trainees, empowering them with high standard professional information, ready to use practically with no limitations of geo-political, cultural, religious or other conditions.
  3. Our modern society suffers from stress, drugs, overuse of chemical medicine and its bad side effects, pollution, GM food, bad habits and ecology. Similar problems can exist with leeches. They should also be free of these factors, only then can we expect good results. BAH works only in partnership with reliable approved leech farms.


This creates a unique connection between BAH members, trainer and trainee, also patient and practitioner, which we can describe as trust, rapport, teamwork, respect, support and empathy. That positive base works on both sides: the patient experiences less stress and depression; the treatment process is much smooth and quicker; a practitioner feels more content and appreciated (because of the power of the method they are using and the supervision they consistently receive).


  1. Everyone is made aware from the very first intake-session of the 3 effects which live leech produce during each professionally performed application: anaesthesia in the first place; an injection directly into the blood system of more than 100 biologically active ingredients secondly; antiseptic at the last stage, just before the leech detaches from the body.
  2. Every patient and trainee is explained the latest discovery of the Phenomenon of Biological Adaptation for the leech bite and its saliva. This usually happens after 10 applications and means that post-application bleeding will be over a shorter and more consistent time. This then allows us to apply more leeches, losing much less blood. Also it means that we are in full control of the process of leech therapy and the prescribed scheme for live leech applications, instilling in the patient more confidence in their treatment.
  3. Each patient and trainee is introduced to the “Wave effect during a live leech application”, the scientific discovery of Prof. Albert Krashenyuk. Meaning they have an understanding of what is happening in the human brain during the leech application and how well the hormonal system is performing during the session (even up to 15 minutes after the leech detaches), clarifying why during each leech application there should not be any disturbing factors (phone calls, computer, TV, discussions, etc.)


  1. Good prevention and preparation before any treatment as the body’s microcirculation is improved significantly
  2. Perfect drainage during and after any surgery or treatment for the lymphatic and blood system
  3. Sufficient cleaning for the human body’s organs (liver, kidney, lungs, etc.) and systems after chemical treatment, including chemotherapy and cancer removal operations.


BAH uses a gentle approach for gradually building new good habits into the daily routine, providing life coaching in order to:

  1. Add some useful and healthier habits
  2. Exchange some of bad habits for better ones
  3. Exclude some of the worst habits


  1. In some cases following the natural detachment of leeches many of them die, indicating the residual levels of previously used chemical drugs and other toxins long retained in the patient’s body. Diagnostically it means that we can control the moment when the body intensifies self-cleansing and is able to extract (by dramatically improved micro-circulation) most of these undesired substances from the blood and lymphatic system. Therefore by the percentage of dead leeches at each stage of treatment, we can deduce how well the cleansing process is proceeding.
  2. After treatment the human body is much better balanced from an energy perspective (we refer to that as energological balance) and demonstrates a great response to QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy. A person feels much more energised, stronger, more positive, and encouraged for more good results by following a prescribed treatment scheme that can guarantee general health enhancement and a stronger immune system.
  3. Knowing about Prof. Albert Krashenyuk’s “Wave Effect” and how these high frequency signals interacts with human brain activity, we can assume an increased level of naturally produced neurone-mediators or natural hormones during a live leech application. To quote extreme cases, our supervisors have performed case studies and have experience of the dramatically increased level of cleansing and neutralising the impact of nuclear radiation and ultra-magnetic waves by leech therapy e.g. workers at nuclear power stations, the consequences after explosions, mobile phones, computers, etc. A very good example of this was discussed at the 2008 Roundtable with the Chernobyl Rescue Team at the Lithuanian Parliament, where doctors/scientists together with their patients presented the beneficial effects after applications of a whole complex of (QC), including live leech applications.


  1. Cleansing
  2. Regulation
  3. Re-building

Therefore in conclusion, complementary medicine treatment, a homeopathic approach, food supplements, physical workouts and Chinese ‘meridian’ methods (used separately by other healers and doctors) are quite acceptable in the UK, but invasive and radical live leech applications and leech product therapy as yet requires a different approach.

It is therefore called “The Integrative Quadracare: Focus on the Best World Experience Approach in Modern Leech therapy and Hirudopractice orQuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC)” and explained in a particular way that is designed to be attractive to the British public and media i.e. much in the same way as in Indian cuisine, where the “Balti” and “Tikka Masala” dishes were introduced for the British palette many years ago. Bearing in mind that a leech bite could sound horrifying to most British people, we should be extremely careful and flexible when applying Hirudotherapy. We are therefore very dependent upon the reputation and experience of the British Association of Hirudotherapy [BAH] and each individual leech therapy consultant & hirudo practitioner, especially a QuadraCare in Hirudotherapy (QC) specialist, is trained and/or approved by BAH.

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