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Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Combatting Cardiovascular Risk with Leech Therapy: Using leeches can be a primary defense against heart disease, according to Pavel Gershkovich

Apr 30, 2014 10:11AM ● By Pavel Gershkovich

Thick and sticky blood is not a good thing—it is a significant risk factor for heart disease and high blood pressure, and the modern American diet makes high blood viscosity commonplace. When the heart muscle contracts, it sends blood moving with some turbulence through the arteries. Thick and sticky red blood cells are abrasive and they rough up the inside of the artery walls. Nature dispatches cholesterol like a salve to patch the rough spots, so plaques form that in turn, narrow the arteries.

Treatment using medicinal leeches, or hirudotherapy, has long been a primary defense against heart disease because of its two-pronged approach. First, during leech therapy there is blood loss, which prompts the body to make lots of new blood cells, and younger red blood cells are more slippery and flexible; they can bend and fold themselves to make their way through the slender passages of the capillaries. Second, leeches secrete some very potent healing substances in their saliva. Particularly useful is the enzyme hirudin, which works like a holistic antibiotic and blood thinner in the human bloodstream.

The many bio-active substances leeches secrete are able to reduce the viscosity of the blood while simultaneously dilating the blood vessels, accelerating lymph flow, inhibiting platelet aggregation, reducing infection and exerting a local analgesic and anesthetic effect.

Leeches have been in the medical toolkit for centuries. The treatment of heart disease, hypertension, varicose veins and hemorrhoids are well-established, traditional indications for leech therapy. Leeches have FDA approval as a medical device and are often used in operating rooms during reconstructive surgery, where surgeons rely on them to create microcirculation.

As people better understand that drugs to inhibit the body’s ability to make cholesterol do not stop the forces which create heart disease, leech therapy is being seen by many as one of the strongest defensive moves an at-risk person can take.

Pavel Gershkovich, CHP, CRP, PMP, is the owner and director of Arizona Leech Therapy and Salt Chalet Arizona at 5011 N. Granite Reef Rd., in Scottsdale. For more information, call 480-621-6041 or visit

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