Leeches Ease Knee Pain

Pharmacy Times, Volume 0,0

Leeches Ease Knee Pain

Although leeches are no longer thenorm for treatment,

a report published in the

Annalsof Internal Medicine

(November 4, 2003) showed evidencethat leeches

may reduce pain and stiffness inpatients with arthritis of

the knee. German researchersmaintained that leech

saliva contains anti-inflammatorysubstances and other

chemicals, which could relievearthritis symptoms. During

the study, the researchers compareda single treatment

with 4 to 6 leeches with that of a28-day regimen of

topical diclofenac.

Leeches were put on painful jointsof the affected knee

of 24 patients and left on for ~70minutes, until the leeches

detached themselves. After 7 days,patients in the

leech group reported significantlyless pain, compared

with those in the diclofenac group.Additionally, benefits

in function, stiffness, and overallarthritis symptoms were

maintained through 91 days offollow-up, the report said.